We arrived safely in Knoxville on Wednesday afternoon. Jeff was a bit nervous on the flights, but he made it. We picked up a rental car at the airport and drove to our hotel. It's a pretty neat extended-stay hotel. Each room has a little kitchen in it, with a full-sized fridge, a sink, a microwave, two burners, a couple of pots and pans, and two sets of tableware. There's a convenience store in the hotel where you can buy a microwave meal or a snack or a soft drink. At the front desk they have movies you can check out for free.
The hotel is located in West Knoxville, about halfway between the airport and Oak Ridge. Since the next day I was to have a medical exam at 8 a.m. in Oak Ridge, I drove, with Jeff as my navigator, to the medical center, as a rehearsal for the next morning. It worked out really well because I was actually adventurous and took a little risk, and in doing so, discovered a shortcut.
I got up at 6:45 a.m. for my medical exam. Unfortunately, I had to fast for twelve hours before the appointment, so I was pretty hungry by the time I got out of it. I had to fill out a lot of forms, too. Most of them I was able to fill out the night before. For things that just required a check in a box, I just filled them out with my right hand. When I actually had to write, I used my left hand. I wrote slowly and used my special jumbo pen, which minimized the pain. When I got to the appointment, they gave me more forms to fill out, upon which I once again used the same technique.
The appointment was kind of interesting. I found out, upon receipt of the forms I had to fill out, that I might occasionally be required to wear a respirator for my new job. I have no idea what sort of duties I will have that could warrant using a respirator. Maybe if a supercomputer catches on fire and I have to go put out the flames? In any case, they had to assess my ability to use a respirator, so I got to fill out a long form about the health history of my lungs, and to do this fun test where you blow in a tube and it measures how much air came out of your lungs. I passed that test with flying colors, scoring 105% of the expected volume for someone of my height and age. (I attributed it to the kata I've learned in karate class, including one that I've nicknamed "the bad breath kata" because it consists almost entirely of inhaling and exhaling, with a few hand moves for added flavor. I'm sure others would say that it proves that I'm full of hot air.)
They did an EKG, which determined that I do indeed have a heart. I asked for a copy of those results, so that I can show them to the next person who calls me "heartless." I also had a vision test, a hearing test, a blood test, a drug test, a chest x-ray, and an examination by a doctor. I showed him my sad knee, my trick shoulder, and my painful hand. He suggested that instead of carpal tunnel syndrome, I may have ulnar tunnel syndrome, which is the same thing, only with a different nerve going through a different tunnel in your wrist. The more I think about it, the more I think he may be right. I am going to get myself some help with my hand once I start working and my real health insurance kicks in.
I know next to nothing about medicine, so I always ask lots of questions. The nurse really enjoyed the fact that I was actually interested in what was going on. I was glad to make her day less dull.
After my medical exam, I drove back to the hotel and ate some food. Jeff had arranged with a realtor whom he had contacted over the internet for us to view some houses. We saw three houses, the last one of which was really great but unfortunately located farther from work than I would like for it to be.
Today we spent doing lots of pre-moving business. First, we got ourselves a post office box in Oak Ridge. That way we will have a permanent address to which friends and family can send us mail while we're getting settled in. Then, we went to the credit union to try to set up an account there.
The credit union was originally founded for employees of the lab, but since then their charter has been expanded so that they can draw members from anyone who lives, works, goes to school, or worships in the area. Jeff and I don't yet live in the area, and I don't exactly work in the area quite yet, but I thought it would be worth a shot to see if we could go ahead and get our membership there and then get preapproved for a mortgage through them. I was looking online and they seemed to have pretty competitive rates on mortgages.
At first, the woman we talked to was a little hesitant to give us an account. I showed her my copy of my accepted job offer, but she was still afraid she wouldn't be able to give us an account. Then I mentioned that we were in the process of looking for a house to buy in Oak Ridge, and we were wanting to get a mortgage loan. She stopped hesitating and decided to go ask somebody about the rules for getting a membership, taking my offer letter with her. She came back with a man who was their mortgage specialist. He took one look at that letter and told her to give us the membership for sure. So she did. We set up our bank account there, and then after she was done with us we went to the mortgage specialist and he got us preapproved for an obscenely large mortgage. It's well within our price range, less than our theoretical maximum, I hasten to add, but it's about three times our current mortgage loan, which is why it seems so huge. Also, here in Tennessee, money goes really far. Housing is cheap compared to Illinois.
Speaking of Illinois, everyone here in Tennessee seems to think that the final "s" in the name of my current home state should be pronounced. We show our driver's licenses, and they say, "Oh, you're from Ill-i-noise." I never correct them, because I'm too busy trying not to laugh.
Our last task was to find me some temporary housing for the time when I move to Oak Ridge to start work, before our house in Illinois is sold and before we can buy our new house. I had found a place on the internet, and we went there and checked it out. It seemed like a pretty nice place, actually, so we went ahead and made me a reservation for a month's stay there. If I needed to stay there longer, I could. All I have to do is let the woman know a couple of days before my month is up.
Tomorrow we are scheduled to look at more houses. I am feeling pretty excited about it, now that some of the hard stuff, like getting preapproved for a mortgage loan, is over with. I hope we can find a good house and get a bid on it.