Pity the do-it-yourself mattress haulers of Alabama. Tasked with toting an unruly bed across town, armed with only a station wagon or minivan and cheap rope, they bravely soldier on, carrying out their duty with a degree of ineptitude and inadvisability usually exhibited by sugar-stoked, undersupervised 7-year-old boys with bottle rockets and short attention spans.
I can’t go two weeks without seeing a mattress on the side of the road, liberated by wind and poor rope skills, whether I’m driving within city limits or on county roads.
These mattresses are always used. You can tell by the - well, you can tell by the stains on them. I’m assuming they’re being moved from house to house, from apartment to apartment. Because who in their right mind would buy a used mattress? I mean, other than the dozens of people who, in the mid-1990s, purchased used (mightily used, some would say) mattresses from the Gone With the Wind Hotel in Mobile, Ala., a hotel located in a colorful part of town (a colorful part of town that I lived in, BTW).
The Gone With the Wind Hotel’s going-out-of-business sale meant that for several weeks, Dauphin Island Parkway was strewn with used, stained beyond stained mattresses, a graveyard of comfort coils and bad planning. Apparently the price was so good that people didn’t even care when the mattresses blew off of their vehicles; either they turned back around and tied another one on, or just motored on back home a few dollars lighter and, frankly, probably not that much wiser. They were buying used mattresses from a discount hotel on the side of the interstate, after all.
What exactly is the psychology behind attempting to tie a relatively heavy, incredibly floppy item to the top of one’s vehicle? What is the owner of a pickup truck thinking when he balances a large mattress across the top of a medium truck bed and leaves stability to chance, rather than proper tie-downs? Is this a Southern thing, or do people all over feel compelled to stack one of their most personal and useful possessions atop their ride, a la The Beverly Hillbillies? Why is it so much funnier to see a mattress sagging over the roof of a minivan than it is to spot one on an SUV?
The questions, they never end. Me following a vehicle going more than 25 mph with a mattress tied on top does end, however, even if I have to take the long way home.