A True Story About How My Mattress Ended Up in Watsonville
Back in 2010 the recession was still going pretty strong, though I didn’t realize it at the time since I never watched the news — all I really knew was that it had been impossible to get a summer job in my hometown the year before. So when my boss at my college’s campus physical plant offered me a summer job on the campus paint crew — 40 hours a week, $9.25 an hour — I took it. (This was back when I lived in Santa Barbara.)
One summer day near quitting time, Alejandro and Diego came to me and said, “Bryan! Hay colchones!”
And there were. A big pile of blue plastic-covered twin mattresses sat on the narrow campus road in front of one of the dorms. I guess the college was getting rid of them. I grabbed two and threw them in Diego’s truck, and he gave me a ride back to mine and my roommate Aaron’s room, which was literally just a room, on Alameda Padre Serra. The mattresses were great — lightweight and easy to move, sanitary, and big enough and comfy enough. I had slept on a similar mattress when I lived in the dorms my freshman year. The used mattresses beat the hell out of sleeping on the floor, which was what we had been doing.
Later Aaron took both the mattresses when we got kicked out, because I had no car at the time and couldn’t take one with me.
About a year after, in May 2011, I had just moved into a big house in Montecito with a tremendous view and incredibly cheap rent. I had my own bedroom for the first time in my life but no mattress. I was borrowing a foam mattress topper that belonged to my housemate Alex and just sleeping on that on the floor.
One evening I went over to a house where some girls I knew lived for some kind of function — perhaps it was an engagement party, or somebody’s birthday. Anyways there were drinks, and Aaron was there.
“Still got that mattress?” I asked Aaron.
“Afraid not. You need one?”
“We have one we’re trying to get rid of!” And in the hallway was a light blue mattress with white edges. Tipsy but not drunk, we put it in Aaron’s jeep and drove over to the house I was staying in and took it into my bedroom, and it was great. Alex took back the mattress topper I’d been borrowing.
At the end of July I had to move out. I rented a storage unit in western Goleta for a dollar. I had to drive from Montecito to the storage facility, so I bought some rope, and inexpertly I tied the mattress to the top of my Camry. In the process of double-checking the ropes as I was driving on a winding narrow Montecito road, I briefly lost sight of the road and hit a medium-sized rock bordering it. I wasn’t going very fast and didn’t think I’d hit it that hard, but the whole side of the car went up in the air and came down with a loud noise. I just kept driving. (I didn’t find out until later on that the collision dented the front right wheel, leading to a flat tire days later.) So that I wouldn’t have to go too fast, I drove to Goleta taking back roads the whole way while UCSB kids pointed and laughed at me from their cars — not sure why.
One month later, I was moving into a studio apartment with my best friend Mike, and he came along to help me empty out the storage unit. I faced the prospect of having to securely tie and carefully drive with the mattress again.
“Just fold it and put it in the back seat,” Mike said. “My sister did that once and it was fine.”
It was not fine. The mattress frame was permanently distorted after that. But the mattress was still usable, and I made it more comfortable when I scavenged some foam mattress toppers that our landlords had thrown out. I cut the mattress toppers down to size with a bread knife.
At the end of the school year — my last year of college — I wasn’t sure how to take the mattress back to the Bay Area. Mike and his dad volunteered to take it in their truck to Watsonville, where I would retrieve it later, the idea being that at least Watsonville was closer to the Bay Area than Santa Barbara was. Naturally I had no idea how or when I would retrieve it.
For a while it was in Mike’s childhood bedroom stacked like sandwich filling between another mattress and a box spring. I crashed on this double-decker bed while I had a seasonal job in Watsonville. I offered to take the now-superfluous mattress to the dump, but Mike’s mom refused to let me. She had the idea that I would need the mattress eventually, and she hated waste.
As far as I know it is there to this day, since I still haven’t gotten it and Mike’s mom refuses to throw it out.