But before I get to the UAB nightmare, thank you so much, everyone, for your well-wishes as I faced my first week of Chinese. Hopefully, soon I'll be able to sit down and do justice to the Chinese class topic, but in this blog post I want to address something I feel is much more important. (In short, the summary of this past week would be: no sleep before midnight any day last week; waking up at six a.m. every morning; more homework than James (because my class goes faster!); trying to do everything and falling way short; sheer exhaustion; pure joy at being included and having this opportunity. Life is busy, but life is good.)
I wish life was as good right now for a dear friend of ours who just moved domestically from Houston to here (the FSI area). She is a State Department co-worker of James', and yesterday (Saturday) her UAB (Unaccompanied Air Baggage, or: "Urcrates All Busted") was delivered to her TDY apartment.
She's a professional. This means that she has all manner of professional clothing (slacks, shirts, jackets, skirts), shoes, accessories, etc. She put these professional clothes (together with her other casual, nice, non-work clothes) in her UAB coming out of Houston about a week ago.
Only the same thing that happened to our family a couple of months ago when we moved from Houston to here happened to her: her UAB was delivered to her in a far different state than when it was packed.
With our family, one of our UAB crates was literally brought to us in pieces. The "crate" (translation: big cardboard box) had fallen apart and all of the stuff inside it had fallen out on the ground. The clothes inside that "crate" that had fallen all over the ground were stuffed back inside the "crate" (big cardboard box) and were delivered to us filthy and gross - covered in dirt and mulch. But at least, with us, it was the kids' dark clothing that had been roughed up and only a mixing bowl or two broke. Our family didn't pursue any claim for reimbursement.
But for James' co-worker, when her UAB (from Houston to FSI) was delivered to her yesterday, her UAB "crate" (big cardboard box) had also busted open/apart, and all her clothes, shoes, etc. had fallen out, gotten ruined, and then all her ruined items had been stuffed back into the box.
She used her phone to take pictures during the UAB delivery. They're blurry, but you can still tell that the box doesn't look as it should:
(Above: Ripped cardboard box "crate" with everything that had fallen out at one point stuffed randomly back inside. Also, we just learned that our UAB items are *packed* like they will actually be flying, but then are actually shipped by truck. So even though it's called UAB, when you're moving domestically your UAB is sent by truck!)
She sent me a picture of one of her ruined casual pieces of clothing - a white skirt:
(You can click on the picture to get it to enlarge - what I'd like to know is, what happened to this skirt?)
All her clothes look like this - her professional work clothes, her casual non-work clothes like this skirt, the whole thing. Shoes are missing, etc.
So now she's faced with the task of trying to figure out what to do next. She has private insurance through USAA, but I've heard that maybe USAA doesn't cover damage during transport like this - only total loss. I hope that's not true. Meanwhile, will State cover it? Has anyone had this happen to them? Can anyone offer advice?
I've read some crazy stories (some on Livelines) about people's entire shipments of HHE being hijacked in foreign countries; of HHE shipments being ruined by mold (sort of like what happened to Emily & Ben); of consumables shipments being stolen, and other such craziness. But what bothers me in this situation is that two UAB shipments coming out of Houston within a very small period of time were damaged/ruined. What's up with that?!
Anyway, like I said, any advice for our dear friend would be most welcome. She's looking at a HUGE task of professional/casual wardrobe replacement, and is wondering how to go about making the claims for the damaged items. And how do we make sure this doesn't keep happening to other folks moving domestically out of Houston or elsewhere?