Friday, October 15, 2010

Mattress Sailing

This all started when our family moved into a real house out in the country after a series of ever-shrinking townie apartments. A friend decided to take advantage of our good fortune of space and requested that we help him out by storing his stuff until he could come pick it up. Being a somewhat nice person who trends to dormatting, I agreed. On bad days, I regret this decision with a passionate loathing that could ignite the sofa. Then I proceed with berating myself for being an idiot until I angrily kick at his storage tubs. On good days, I try to remind myself that though this house is smaller than the average single family home, for those of us locked in perpetual student living, it’s a mansion. I mean, it actually holds all our stuff. If that isn’t a mansion, then nothing is. No wonder my (still single, still in college) friend perceived it as such.

So, we moved a bunch of his stuff, but told him he’s got to part with some of his larger possessions. For example, we just don’t have any place for a king size bed. Not to mention, we don’t even have a vehicle big enough to transport it. While my Honda is distantly related to the Tardis and the station wagon is like having a small pickup, king beds are just not going to happen. Seeing as how neither of us had the money to rent a truck, we convinced him to let us sell his stuff and send him the proceeds.

After putting it off as long as I can, I finally decided it’s time to sell the mattress. I post on Craigslist with specific instructions that whoever wants it will have to come and take it themselves. Within an hour, I got a call. We scheduled a meetup for Thursday evening.

Thursday evening rolls around and the buyer met me at the storage unit. I saw many vehicles drive by towing trailers of varying types and I really really hoped the buyer was one of those people. Please let it be someone who is actually prepared to haul away a king size bed, I prayed.

I really don’t know why I expected that.

The buyer showed up in an SUV that was clearly not big enough to carry this thing away. He was still determined to make it work. He solemnly inspected the disassembled bed and expressed doubt at the box spring, which is a typical two-piece setup. Apparently the two-piece setup displeased him and he was no longer willing to pay full price.

I didn’t really care at this point. I wanted the bed gone so I could be done with the whole mess once and for all. I agreed to his price and we then proceeded with the impossible task of trying to fit the bed in his SUV.

After many, many different configurations, he had an epiphany that we could put the mattress on top.

“Do you have any rope?” he asked innocently.

“I will go look,” I said, while inwardly screaming You came to haul away a king size bed, you dolt! Why the hell didn’t you bring your own damn rope?

I didn’t find any rope, but I did discover a pair of bungee cables in my trunk I keep for the occasional roadside bondage emergency. I thought this whole plan was surely destined to fail as they were far too short to go around the whole mattress. He, on the other hand, thought it would be absolutely brilliant to hook the two cables together so they’d reach. He wrestled with the cables until he was satisfied that the mattress was securely fastened.

Let me just say right now that it was not securely fastened. Maybe if we were floating in space it could be securely fastened, but on this planet, with things like gravity and wind and traffic, it’s destined for failure. At the very least, there’s only one length of cable holding it down. Also, he didn’t secure it in the center; the cables were run across the end third of the mattress and the back end was drooping down the SUV’s rear.

He must have realized this was a risky venture, so he asked me to follow him back to his house just in case. Like a moron, I agreed. I tried to rationalize it by saying that I wanted my bungee cables back, but the stupid things cost three dollars. Some things just are not worth saving.

So, off we went. It didn’t start well. I almost smashed into him a few times as he was very learned in the art of pulling out, then stopping suddenly before completing the turn, only to repeat this twice more. We got on the road and I suddenly realized he’s heading for the interstate overpass. The interstate overpass that is extremely high with steep rises and happens to be one of the vortex wind corridors of doom.

This is the point where I inched back a little bit and prayed to every deity I could think of that the mattress would stay down.

He climbed at a reasonable speed and I breathed a little sigh of relief. As he crested the hill, the wind of death picked up and the whole apparatus started to rise. This is the part where he must have thought accelerating would help the mattress stay down. So he accelerated.

The mattress lifted up like a giant sail as he barreled down the other side of the bridge. In my mind’s eye, I saw the bungee cable snap, the mattress fly off his roof, crash into my windshield, and send me and my poor little car plummeting to our deaths on the interstate below. Naturally, I also envisioned an 18-wheeler zooming over my spattered remains, just to finish the job.

Magically, by the grace of whatever physics were working that day, the bungee cords held. The mattress remained upright, like a giant, comfy sail as he zoomed down the bridge. Once he got to the bottom, he must have realized something was amiss, so he slowed down and the mattress plopped back down onto the roof. Unfortunately, all of this caused the mattress to slide a little farther down and it was now being held even less securely than before. Which was kind of like poking holes in sandals to declare them less watertight than before.

My point is, the only thing holding it down was most likely prayers from all the other motorists.

After a few blocks of careful, very slow driving, we hit a stretch of wide, straight streets. This prompted the mattress buyer to speed up because hey, it’s not like he had any reason to go slow, right?

The mattress started to lift off the roof again. I immediately hit my brakes and put as much distance as I could between myself and certain death. As I followed, I watched the mattress rise up higher and higher and higher. This damn thing was one hair from being vertical. The bungee cords were stretched to their limit, straining against the mattress that was determined to fly. Had it lifted one more centimeter, the bungee cords would have snapped down onto the roof and the mattress would have gone soaring right into traffic. No doubt it would have smashed into me, probably out of revenge for selling it to the lowest bidder.

We drove three miles that way. Three miles of the mattress standing on end, one bump away from disaster. When pedestrians weren’t pointing and laughing, they were cringing in horror and diving for the nearest shelter.

Somehow, we made it to his house. The buyer didn’t seem to have any clue what had happened or why I was white as a sheet. He handed me back my bungee cords, paid for the bed, and happily started unloading.

Then I just needed to sell the damn easy chair.


  1. I think I see Darwin Awards in this guy's future.

  2. I almost wish I could have witnessed this. Then I realize you would have made me help, so reading about it is fine by me!

  3. I really enjoy a good adventure when it is happening to someone else. Good story. Congrats on the excellent start to your new blog!

  4. And he didn't pay for the bed when he loaded it, why?

  5. OH my... I would've been one of the people pointing and laughing though as you passed.

  6. did you at least get your bungee cords back? (ducks and runs)

  7. The things we do to be "nice." Hi, I'm a doormat/flying mattress!