There’s been a great deal of drama (and a fair share of comedy) in my neighborhood this week. We’ve had news crews camped out and helicopters circling overhead. Residents have set up lawn chairs to watch the story progress. Or not progress, as it turned out. And it’s all because of what everyone’s calling “that old house.”
It seems the Wills family sold some property they owned in a commercial corridor. On that property was an old farmhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To save the family home, they decided to move it onto a residential lot they own about a mile away.
As you can see from the map, there were two possible options. The blue route would take them down a wide, heavily traveled road and would likely require the temporary removal of two sets of traffic signals. The gray route would take them through a subdivision with wide streets. The chose the gray route to minimize “inconvenience.”
The map shows it to be a 3-minute trip either way by car (21 minutes walking, unless you’re me and then it takes about 18 minutes), but naturally you expect it to take longer when you’re hauling a house. A couple hours? A half-day, at most. NO ONE expected it to take three days.
Getting started was the first problem the movers encountered. That old house was adjacent to some railroad tracks, and for a short time, the house was stuck ON the tracks.
Once they cleared it and made the wide turn into the subdivision, the truck’s axle broke and the truck and house were left to block the street overnight. Thus ended Day 1.
The house moved about two blocks on day 2. I’m not sure who measured everything (it wasn’t me), but apparently trees, mailboxes, fire hydrants and streetlights were not taken into account. As the house inched (literally!) along, every obstacle had to be considered and cleared. This sometimes required chainsaws and jackhammers.
The house did suffer a bit of damage when the crew cleared the limbs of a threatening oak tree but seemed to miss noticing the stately magnolia on the other side of the street. Fortunately, the damage can be repaired. At the end of Day 2, the house approached a fire hydrant, too big an obstacle to be cleared that day.
On Day 3, that old house finally affected me. As it finally(!) approached its new home, it was stuck while utility crews temporarily removed some power lines that had also apparently gone unnoticed in the planning phase. Since I had no electricity, I moseyed over to check things out personally.
Yep, it was stuck. As I stood there watching the house going nowhere, it occurred to me that there were lessons to be learned from its journey.
- Planning is important in any endeavor. Anticipate the obstacles before you begin.
- No matter how much you plan, there will still be surprises. Be prepared for them.
- Some obstacles are so large, it’s tempting to abandon the journey. Continue. Always.
- Sometimes you can get so focused on one obstacle, you miss another one completely. Both the big picture and the small picture are important.
- No matter which route you take on a journey, someone is going to be inconvenienced. Life isn’t always convenient.
- Some journeys take a lot longer than anticipated. Be prepared to wait.
- Some progress is measured in miles, some in inches. It’s all still progress.
- Even when you arrive at your destination, the journey isn’t over. Keep your bags packed.
At around 5 last night, the house was on the lot. It’s still on the truck because there are repairs and fine tuning that must happen before it’s set into place. The project took longer than anticipated, but the house got to where it needed to be…eventually.
As will we all.
“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
― Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story