If you'd been hanging around my street the other night, you'd have found me wearing a sports bra, gumboots and rugby shorts, a shelf over one shoulder, black bin bag over the other, and swearing into a phone jammed under the rim of my cap.

I looked like the sort of person you'd find on Border Patrol protesting that I no idea who had hidden three crates of snakes up my arse.

What was happening to me? I was moving house. I was also doing it for the first time without the help of my parents. Which, in theory, should have been a liberating, independent experience but in practice was the stuff bad soap operas are written of.

However, this isn't necessarily terrible when you're a writer. It normally means there's a column in it. Like this one, of five things I learnt from moving house.


Lesson one: Never bitch about your agent on the "confidential" customer feedback form. They will know. And they will take their revenge.

There I was in my empty house, frantically trying to screw the door back on, when I looked up to see a stranger in my hall.

"Um, sorry, but you're kinda in the way," she said. "Oh sorry," I said, apologising to a complete stranger for my completely irresponsible action of sitting on my own kitchen floor. "Who are you?"

She looked at me like I'd dribbled on her gold Birkenstocks. "I'm here for the open home."

This phrase worries me at the best of times. But today it rendered me paralytic. The cleaning company was due in 15 minutes to do the exit clean so we could get the bond back. And now judgmental stick insects in gold sandals were descending ...

The phone rang. It was my estate agent. "Oh hey, Verity, how are ya? Just so you know, it's a bit last minute, but there's an open home at your house at 3pm. Hope that's fine - sorry I must have forgotten to let you know ... haha!"

Ha. Ha.

Lesson Two: Nobody will grasp the seriousness of the situation. No one.

Dad had asked if I needed help with the move. I had told him firmly that I was an Independent Woman Who Didn't Need Any Overly Eager Fatherly Guidance Or Secret Attempts to Make Me Eat More Iron.

I was an adult.

Suddenly it was 11pm and I was in the supermarket, facing a wall of identical lightbulbs, frantically trying to remember year 10 physics. What was wattage? Was it voltage? If you connected the wobbly thing to the wibbly bit does the thingamajig do the flashy bit?

I cursed every ex-boyfriend who I had ever changed my lightbulbs and created a patriarchal dependency that had made me helpless in the hands of dire necessity. Then I called an ex-boyfriend.

He told me it was super-easy, you just connected the wobbly to the wibbly and the thingamajig did a whirly thing and ... My other ex said the same. My guy friend just snorted with laughter and my brother told me he had more important things to do. There was nothing for it.

"Hey, Dad ..."

Lesson Three: Forget the empire, the council knows when to strike back. Ruthlessly.

During the showdown between the real estate and the recently arrived cleaning company, I stepped outside and saw a ticket officer crouched over my bins.

He brandished his notebook at me, his bum bag jiggling with wrath. "The bins!" Jiggle. I stared at him. Yes, there were bins on the pavement. I'd moved them there to clear room for the open home. "The bins!" he howled. Jiggle jiggle. "It's not bin daaaaaay." Jiggle jiggle jiggle.

It turns out that if you have your bins on the pavement when it's not bin day, they'll fine you $300. It also turns out that they don't accept grovelling. Or pleading. Or offers of eternal chocolate biscuits and continual oral sex. They just want that $300.

Lesson Four: You can always count on the kindness of strangers. Well, middle-aged and slightly sweaty tradies.

I don't know how the tradie knew to come out. Perhaps he had a sixth sense for people in need. Perhaps it was just chance. Or perhaps he heard me moaning like a wounded hippo and came to see what the fuss was about. Either way, he appraised the situation in a heartbeat and said, "Mate, have you written her a ticket yet?" The bum bag jiggled. No. "Okay, if we get this rubbish in before you write a ticket, will she have to pay?" Jiggle. No. "Right. Boys! Get out here!" And the rubbish was inside in a momentary whir of fluoro and Lynx Africa.

Lesson Five: Sometimes, humans are just great.