Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mattress: A Horror Story

I believe I mentioned on Twitter at the end of last week that Callum climbed out of his crib for the first time. Sort of a typical two-year-old thing to do and something we'd been anticipating for awhile, actually, since he's so tall, so not exactly an earth-shattering moment, though we were hoping to get a couple more months out of the crib, but you know, whatever.

Regardless, the whole crib climbing thing is just backstory, designed to illustrate why, on Friday evening, we drove a few miles down the interstate to purchase a new, double mattress for Callum to use. We found a good quality, reasonably priced mattress that we liked, and then we found a floor model on sale for half the price, so we bought it, but it didn't come with delivery. That was fine, though, the salesman assured us, because we have a good solid SUV and he had a big spool of twine and he ties mattresses to cars all the time! It's no big deal!

So. We bought the mattress. We hauled it out to the car. The mattress store manager tied it solidly to the roof with twine. He assured us it wouldn't budge. The three of us (Callum was with us too) climbed in the car and drove cautiously away.

You see where this is going, right? I don't even have to tell you the end of this story, do I, because you already know what's coming, don't you?

Yeah. We trundled cautiously along, the mattress seemed secure, we drove up the entrance ramp onto the highway... and close to the end of the ramp, when we had gotten up to maybe 50 MPH or so, the mattress caught the wind, lifted like a sail, tore right through the "no-budging" twine, and flew off the back of our car onto the highway. I saw the whole thing happen, through our sunroof, and OMG. TERRIFYING.

You guys, we were so, so lucky. The mattress didn't hit an oncoming car. It didn't land in a middle lane of speeding traffic. It landed half on the shoulder of the road, half on the entrance ramp. It was actually at a place where two entrance ramps merged, so it was extra wide, and there was plenty of room for cars to steer around it. It wasn't yet dark. It didn't end up causing an accident (damn, now I've gone and given away the ending of the story). Even the mattress itself was unscathed. It was all fine. FINE. But OH MY GOD.

So yeah. Our mattress flew off our car and landed on the highway. Torsten reacted well, and we pulled over onto the (narrow, barely as wide as our car) shoulder with our hazard lights on, staring at each other going OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WHAT DO WE DO OUR MATTRESS IS GOING TO CAUSE A HORRIBLE FATAL ACCIDENT.

After we collected ourselves, we assessed the situation to determine whether we could safely get out of the car and walk back to the mattress and... move it, somehow. We concluded that we could not. The shoulder was too narrow for us to walk safely--if someone was texting or not paying attention and swerved onto the shoulder, we'd be dead. Also, I was on the passenger side of the car and could get out fairly safely, but we'd need two people to lift the mattress and Torsten couldn't get out of the car without jumping directly into traffic (and the interior of our car is set up in such a way that it's nearly impossible to climb across). Also, Callum was in the car and we weren't about to leave him alone in a car parked on the shoulder of the interstate.

So, we called 911. I kind of felt like we were overreacting and maybe should be calling the non-emergency police number instead, but you know what? It was a really dangerous situation. There was a mattress lying in traffic. If someone hit that mattress at 50 MPH (or more), they would cause a serious accident. Meanwhile, we were parked on a narrow shoulder (with our child in the car), which didn't feel all too secure. Basically, we wanted that mattress off the road STAT. And the 911 operator seemed to agree. The second I told her "mattress on highway" she was all over me for location details and dispatched someone right away. I asked how long it would be and she said she didn't know, but that mattresses on the road were a high priority so it would be as soon as possible. She told us that if we felt safe where we were parked on the shoulder (borderline) we should just wait in the car for the police officer to arrive and come talk to us.

So that's what we did, and you guys, it was seriously the most terrifying experience of my entire life. It was getting dark, and we were sitting there on the shoulder of the highway trying (unsuccessfully) to convince ourselves not to stare at the mattress in the road behind us and all the cars veering around it at the last second at high speeds, convinced that every single one of them was going to hit the mattress and spin out into a horrible accident and be killed and OH MY GOD WHERE IS THE COP WHY ISN'T HE HERE YET THEY ARE ALWAYS EVERYWHERE HANDING OUT STUPID SPEEDING TICKETS BUT SOMEONE COULD ACTUALLY BE KILLED HERE SO WHY ARE THEY TAKING SO LONG. At one point a very nice man in a pickup truck pulled over and came to talk to us (he climbed out his passenger side, thankfully) and offered to help us pick it up but we told him it was too dangerous and thank you very much but please don't risk it, we will just wait for the police.

The cop did eventually show up, after 15 life-shortening minutes of tension and stress. He parked behind the mattress with his lights on and came over to talk to us and I got out of the car and he and I lifted the mattress over the concrete barrier into the grass on the other side and then he told us to just pull the broken twine into our car so that it wouldn't get caught under our tires and sent us on our way. He was incredibly nice and didn't lecture or give us a ticket or anything.

So yeah. We drove away, took the next exit, drove down the frontage road alongside the highway until we located the mattress, pulled into the parking lot near it, and sat there debating what to do. Obviously we couldn't put the mattress on the car again, even if the twine hadn't been broken. And it wouldn't fit in the car. We called the mattress store and spoke to the guy who had tied the damn thing on our car to begin with, and while he was somewhat sympathetic, he was also surprisingly detached and also completely useless. We racked our brains for friends who owned a truck, thought of one, and called them, but they weren't answering. Then we remembered that there was a Home Depot down the street and that they rent out pickup trucks, so we drove over there, rented a truck, drove back to the mattress, got it secured in the truck, caravaned home, left the mattress in our garage, and caravaned back to Home Depot to return the truck. And my heart did not stop pounding and I did not stop shaking during the entire experience.

Oh and also when we left the house to buy the mattress? We forgot the diaper bag and had no food or water for Callum. He was asking for it when we left the mattress store, and we told him we'd be home soon (HAHAHA) and he could have some then. But we didn't anticipate the slight 1.5-hour delay. And you guys, he was so sweet and patient. As we were on the side of the highway freaking out he sat in his car seat singing songs and occasionally asking for food and water but not getting upset when we told him we were really sorry but we didn't have any right now. In fact, the thing that made him most upset was when Torsten drove the Home Depot truck and we wouldn't let him ride in it too. ("Mommy bye-bye car. Daddy bye-bye truck! CALLUM BYE-BYE TRUCK??")

So yeah, basically Callum is a perfect angel child and he better REALLY like that new mattress. Also next time I'm paying for delivery, oh my god.


  1. OMG. We have a similar story. My parents bought two headboards for single beds to use in our house in MI. At some point during the drive from Chicago to MI they came off the car. Once my parents realized that they were gone, they doubled back to try to find them, but someone had already picked them up!!

    Definitely not as scary as your situation, but more expensive than hiring a Home Depot truck!

    Glad no one was hurt!!

  2. Holy cow. So scary! I'm glad everything worked out, and I love how patient Callum was during the whole experience.

    Jason and his best friend were coming home late one night when an unsecured mattress flew out of the truck in front of them, causing them to crash. It was pretty scary. The other vehicle fled the scene. Jason's friend was driving and he was fine, but they kept Jason overnight in the hospital as a precaution because he hit his head on the windshield (his seatbelt didn't catch). He was fine, but was picking slivers of glass out of his ear for the next few days.

    To this day, whenever I'm driving and I see someone transporting a mattress in front of me, I switch lanes. Every single time.

  3. Holy crap! Thank goodness no one was hurt! If I were you I'd like to kick that mattress guy who said the twine wouldn't break. Gah!

  4. I was really glad you gave the end of the story first, because I would have had to skip ahead anyway. OMG!

  5. I'm glad this ended well, how scary!

  6. Well, THAT was terrifying.

    I think we took Gabe's crib home and the people tied our trunk closed with twine. THAT was terrifying. I no longer trust twine. Bungee cords all the way, man!

    That sounded like a nightmare!

  7. OH MY GOD. I would be lodging a formal complaint about mattress store guy with someone higher up. Holy crap. So glad it turned out okay!

  8. OMG, Jess! This sounds absolutely HORRIBLE! I would have been a mess. I am so, so glad everything turned out ok.

    Gah. Next time you guys decide to move furniture - CALL US! We'd be happy to drive down with our truck. ;-) Really! Gah!

  9. Yikers! That's scary. Glad everyone is okay...ish...in the end. :-/


  10. Holy crap, Jess. Terrifying! Glad you guys are ok.

  11. Oh, this sort of thing stresses me out SO MUCH. I'm so glad it ended well with everybody safe & as (relatively) little stress as possible (which is obviously still super stressful). And it sounds like the police officer was really helpful & nice about it all too. The whole unsecured load thing gets you a really steep ticket here now after a few years back there were a few freak accidents where a woman lost her eyesight &, sadly, just past the freeway entrance closest to where we live there was a fatal accident when things went flying off vehicles/out of pick-up trucks. All within...6 months of each other, I think? Terrible.

    ANYWAY, I digress. Stressful, scary, frustrating, ugh. So glad it all turned out for the best! And Callum is a total trooper.

  12. Oh my! What an experience that had been! I hope Callum likes that mattress as you almost got killed bringing it home, and I hope the mattress is worth all that trouble. And yeah, it’s a wise idea to pay for delivery the next time you buy something as large as a mattress. -- Roberta at Glendale Mattress Central

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  16. That story was terrifying from the beginning. We all knew it was going to come flying off, we just hoped the end would be different. Thankfully, no one got hurt because you could have been paying for injuries for the rest of your life if someone sued you guys. Consider this a lesson learned, truck rentals are cheap and easy.

    Dante Storey @ Healthy Bed Store

  17. Wow, just wow! We did have an incident sort of like that a few years ago when I foolishly bought a mattress from a store without a way to get it home since I was only in my small Toyota. It took me a while to locate a truck from a friend.