May 25, 2017 by Gregory Josephs
Beds in Boxes and the Stress of Anticipation
“Wait,” Brian said as he turned the key in the ignition. “What do you mean it comes in a box?”
“Well, just that. It comes in a box.”
“A king-sized bed? That must be a huge box!”
I shrugged. “I don’t think so. It expands after you open it.”
He furrowed his brow and backed out of the parking spot. “And how much did you say it cost?”
“Maybe just under a thousand?”
“Holy hell! We’d better do it! Those guys back there should be pretty worried.” He shook his head as he turned the car out of the parking lot and back onto the highway. “Seventy-two months financing, and you can get a damned bed in a box.”
I chuckled under my breath. After only five years on a bed we paid $2500 for, it was already time for a new mattress. We’d been going back and forth about it for a few months; the mattress hadn’t weathered the move to our new condo very well. Apparently the much-lauded individually wrapped coils didn’t like being twisted as they were forced up a tight stairwell to the second floor. We’d also noticed some permanent impressions that rotating the thing didn’t seem to remedy.
Sleep is so important; it’s the foundation of all productivity, and lately, we hadn’t been sleeping. I snore, Brian is a light sleeper, and we both toss and turn on the best of nights. Our mattress was terrible about motion transfer, so one little readjustment at 3am, and one or the other would be awake again for a half hour.
So we’d finally decided to bite the bullet and start shopping for a new mattress. As we’d done five years earlier, we headed to the mattress store in the hopes of scoring a deal.
Cloud Supreme-ly Unrealistic
I had my sights set on Tempur-Pedic. For years it had been my dream to fall into one of those Cloud Supremes every night and just feel weightless. We’d thought about it five years ago—come really close to pulling the trigger even—but held back at the last minute. They were so expensive. I hoped that now, after some years had passed, the prices would have come down.
“I know it sounds expensive,” the sales guy told us as we looked at the present-day sticker-price. “But if you buy it today, we’re offering seventy-two months no-interest financing! You could have this bed and the adjustable base for just $98 a month!”
Right. For six years. We walked out saying we’d think about it.
We had no intention of thinking about it.
As we exited the highway and started down the hill toward our house, I had to agree with Brian. Those guys should be scared. I’d been seeing advertisements on the train for a new memory foam bed-in-a-box that we could get delivered with a hundred night trial for less than four figures, so what did we have to lose?
Later that day, after some further discussion, we decided to pull the trigger. Our second wedding anniversary was coming up, and the new mattress would be a gift to ourselves. A thousand dollars was still a lot of money, but the old mattress had to go. We loaded up the website, watched the product videos, checked out some reviews, and clicked ‘buy.’
Commence the Waiting
I am terrible at waiting. For someone who is so relaxed I sometimes have to check to see if I even have a pulse, there is something about waiting (especially for deliveries) that puts me over the edge. Anytime something I deem to be important is coming to the house, I spend the morning sitting in the chair in the bay window, staring out at the street.
I have this neurotic fear that the UPS guy is going to park out of sight, sneak up to the door like a stealthy brown-clad ninja, pretend to press the doorbell, and then run off, taking my precious cargo with him to remain undelivered until another day.
There was that day shortly after we moved in when the 110 pieces of Fiestaware my grandmother was sending was scheduled to arrive. The delivery window was from 10 until 2. When UPS still hadn’t showed up by 12:30 I had to call out of work (even though I don’t work until 3) because I was so anxious.
I think the dishes showed up at 12:42.
The day we got our new living room furniture delivered? We didn’t have a chair to put in the bay window yet, so I actually sat downstairs on the front porch, eyes widening in anticipation at every white box truck that drove by.
It wasn’t much different when it came to the new mattress. The day of delivery I put a note on the door telling the UPS driver I was home. If I didn’t hear the doorbell, call my phone. To help me survive my delivery neuroses, I’ve had a UPS my choice account for a few years now, and I knew that, again, the mattress was supposed to arrive between 10 and 2. It was out for delivery—had been since 5:34am—so I grabbed some coffee and waited.
I managed to hold off calling out of work until 1:30pm this time. Brian got home early from work a few minutes later, and again, I could have gone to work, but I was far too anxious at this point.
“Stop pacing.” He told me in his calmest voice. I could tell by the look on his face he was concerned; seeing me stressed is such a rare occurrence, I know it was killing him. “It’s going to come. Don’t worry. It’s going to come.”
It was just after 2:30 at this point. “It should have been here already!” I said, far too loudly. “I don’t understand what the damned hold-up is! Ugh, why doesn’t this truck just show up and put me out of my misery?!”
Outside I heard a distinctive set of brakes and the sigh of a truck engine being turned off. I rushed to the window and there, bright, beautiful, and brown, was the UPS truck. I rushed out of the condo, down the stairs, and threw open the front door.
The UPS man was there, and the surprise on his face at my sudden appearance was quickly replaced with a frown. In his hands he held a single, small Amazon box, addressed to my neighbor. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t have your package.”
My eyes widened in horror. “But it said. . . It said out for delivery.”
“Well, it was, but there wasn’t room on the truck, so I had to leave it behind. Someone else should be bringing the overflow. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s—it’s okay.” I replied, smiling the best I could. “Thanks.” I turned and walked solemnly back up the stairs.
As I sat, defeated in the same chair I’d occupied all morning and afternoon, Brian took the reins and called UPS. No, it didn’t look like it was coming today. No, sorry, some weather down south had a lot of things backed up. Yes, it was sure to come tomorrow.
You Will Survive. . .
Later, as he sat with me on our lumpy, now intolerable old mattress, he reassured me. “Look, it’s going to come tomorrow. And once we have it? We’ll have it forever. You’ll forget all about this stress of waiting. It’ll be alright. You will survive.”
I leaned into him, grateful. I knew all this, and really, what was the big deal? There were people in the world with real problems. All I had to worry about was anticipating a delivery for another day.
Except the next day, it still didn’t come. I went to work, furious. Didn’t UPS know that this was actually killing me? Someone had moved it from this part of the warehouse to that part, and it just didn’t make it onto the truck. I was assured several times over that no matter what, it would be delivered the following day.
On the third day, when the UPS driver showed up without our mattress, I implored him for help. I have to give the man a lot of credit. He pulled out his phone and made some calls—spent about ten minutes sitting on our porch trying to figure out where the damned thing was—and left me hopeful.
Brian was home early again and made another call just to confirm the delivery was going to happen today.
Forty-five minutes later a second UPS truck arrived. After observing it pull up from my usual spot in the bay window, I rushed downstairs again. A female driver climbed out of the truck and smiled. “I heard you’ve been waiting for this for quite some time.”
I sighed and felt three days of tension evaporate from my neck and shoulders. “You have no idea.”
She pulled open the back, revealing an empty truck; empty save for one single blue and white box.
“Enjoy,” she said.
The mattress was worth the wait, and one night on the memory foam relieved me of any lingering physical stress from the process. Brian, as usual was right; we’ve had the bed for about eight months now, and I haven’t thought one bit about the agony of anticipating its arrival until today. And today I only remember because. . .
I’m waiting for something else; something way more important than a mattress. Any day now my manuscript is due back from the editor. Perhaps it’ll be in my inbox this afternoon. Maybe it won’t show up until the middle of next week. I sent it out at the beginning of April, and for the first month I was fine, but now, knowing it’s due back soon, I’m filled with nervous energy.
I survived waiting for the mattress, and I’ll survive this. Fellow writers on Twitter have given me about a million suggestions for how to tolerate the time that remains, and I’m employing as many of them as I can.
And of course Brian is here, reminding me to relax—to breathe. Once I have it back I’ll have it forever, and soon, you’ll be able to have it forever too. In a few months, this anticipation will all be a distant memory.
One of the best ways to occupy me while I wait is by sharing your thoughts! Are you good at waiting? Are you a slave to instant gratification? Have you ever had an infuriating delivery kerfuffle? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you a million times over for reading.