#43 New BedPosted: May 7, 2013
A friend started to browse for a new mattress. She and her husband were considering the miracle of memory foam, but she wasn’t convinced they needed it. She was shopping as a pre-emptive strike to keep her husband from buying something extravagant. I tagged along. First stop, a giant store that sells beds and nothing but beds. When we entered that airplane hanger we each turned into characters from a bedtime story, scurrying to find the mattress that was “just right.” A saleslady escorted us into a little room with the super duper bed, the sound of ocean waves, and oh my, comfort.
My friend who was determined not to buy anything was signing a deal for a new bed that had so many bells and whistles that the only thing it didn’t have was bells and whistles. She was in shock over buying the first thing she saw. I was no help. But today she might give up just about anything, even her husband, but not that bed.
About a year later on the advice of my physical therapist, two surgeons and my pissed off back, it was my turn to shop. The rump was sprung in my mattress. At night I tried to cling to the edge where it still had an inch of support. I swear the mattress had attitude when I tried to flip it. I wouldn’t make an impulsive purchase though. So the same friend with mattress experience went with me. I just needed support for my back. No bells or whistles. Might as well go to the same big store to start my education. And of course two heads meant more sales resistance.
There are pieces of furniture we buy more than once in a lifetime. In my case starting life over several times, I’ve had to furnish homes again and again. As the decades pass, a bed becomes more important. Our backs are less like a hydraulic lift, and more like pasta al dente. So in order of importance these days comes a comfortable mattress, then water and then food.
On a rainy summer day we went to the same big store, not to buy but to learn. When we arrived we were greeted before we could shake the rain from our clothes. A salesman in a dark suit wearing a huge diamond-like pinkie ring educated us on mattresses at full throttle. He impressively answered every question we batted at him. About two hours later I was approved for an interest-free loan on my new bed, for less than five but more than four thousand dollars. WHAT? I live on a budget. I’m an expert at my budget. My budget keeps me levelheaded and terror free. Nowhere but nowhere in it was a new bed that cost more than my first car. (I’m guessing that airfare to London has gone up too.) It would be delivered in two days.
The next morning in the shower I knew what a stupid thing I had done and found relief when I decided to cancel the order. There was no answer at the big store. No one picked up a phone. I was so determined to cancel the order that I called the corporate headquarters in Massachusetts and was pretty quickly connected with their cancellation department. Now we’re talking. They actually have a cancellation department. So they weren’t going to fight me. It would be just as if it had never happened. I’d be good this time. I’d shop for a modest enough bed to support my cranky back.
And then Christian came on the line. He was kind with a warm voice and he listened to me. But he didn’t so much cancel the order as he cut the price exactly in half. Yes, he cut the price in half and had a new contract on my computer screen within three minutes. I can’t send anything to anyone’s computer in three minutes.
What was I thinking? Was I thinking? Half the price, no matter how much it was originally must be a good deal. Two young men arrived the next day and set up the bed that moves in nearly any direction and vibrates. This wasn’t a mattress. It was a vehicle.
I went online to research the mattress and the motor. Yes, after it was delivered. I thoroughly confused myself by reading the polar reviews. But I found comfort in the fact that the price seemed reasonable by comparison. Not compared to a simple everyday mattress. But reasonable compared to beds that light up underneath so you can find the motor’s battery if it gets stuck in any one position.
I rationalized everything but one major detail. It was bloody uncomfortable. It wasn’t a mattress to sink into. It was a platform that had no forgiveness for my aging Northern European bones. I was in agony flopping all night to stop the pain. I went out to do what I should have done before. I shopped. I found a reasonable mattress for a quarter of the reduced price. I called Massachusetts again to have them come pick up the “rack.” They told me what the salesman had not, that it could take two weeks to adjust to a new mattress. (You mean like a new part in my hair?) They assured me that if after two weeks I was still uncomfortable they would find a solution. But of course that was inching up on the no return date. I could change the base and motor, but not a mattress. The cost would go up, not down. I was beaten, depleted, done.
After wrestling the mattress to cut a hole in the bed skirt for the bar at the front of the bed that keeps the mattress from sliding into the next room when the head is propped up, getting a handyman to take away the mysterious parts the delivery guys left behind and moving the night stand out two feet because the bed moves so far forward I can’t reach back for a simple glass of water (and giving it more than two weeks) it got more comfortable. I’ve added a featherbed on top of the rack.
The one feature I’d hate to give up now is the anti-gravity position. One button on the remote control nestles my back into instant relief. Who knew that such a monumental mistake could do that? I think I’ll go home and go to bed.