Yesterday I drove five hours, took four trips to the U-Haul office, made three furniture and mattress store expeditions, rented two different vehicles, and got one lovely surprise. Oh, and coughed up a great deal of cash.
Backing up a little: the move from an apartment to our house doubled our square-footage and left a few new rooms a bit spartan. We didn’t want to rush out and buy “filler” furniture since we like things simple and prefer to save for items we really love. However, since visiting family and friends need somewhere to sleep, our big treat was moving the old queen bed to the guest bedroom and buying a new king sized mattress and spring for ourselves. I hoped to find a simple, shaker-style four-poster bed to go with it, but in the meantime we slept on the mattress on the floor and looked at our options.
The options, as displayed by our local furniture stores, exemplified a remarkable unity of costliness and ugliness. The current trend in four-poster beds is pillars a foot thick that resemble pillaged loot from a Greek temple. We both hate shopping, so all this was observed while making record-setting sprints through the furniture stores tailed by wheezing furniture salesmen waving brochures. Looking online turned up many beautiful beds, but no beautiful prices. Craigslist? Nada. Ebay? Zip.
Three months after getting the mattress (i.e. last week) I drove my antique-loving mother to a small town known for its quaint looks and plentiful antique stores. We glanced at a few antiques, browsed the used-book table at the Fall Festival, and were just on our way out of town when we stopped at one last place by the side of the road. There, in the very back of the store, was a simple, slim-lined king-sized bed built by a top furniture maker out of beautiful wood, for half the price of the cheapest bed I’d found so far. It wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, but very close, at a price the fit our needs.
The delivery cost made my jaw drop. Carl had to work on Saturday, but I figured I could rent a U-Haul and bring the bed home myself in two hours, saving a great deal of money. Heh.
I looked at rental truck options online. The headboard itself was only about four feet high, but with the vertical posts on either side of it created an awkward square seven and a half feet on a side – a cargo van would be long enough, but not wide enough if the posts didn’t come off. I called the antique store to verify:
Me: “I’m trying to figure out what size rental vehicle to bring, and I was wondering: does the headboard detach from the vertical posts on either side of it?”
Nice Shop Owner: “Yes. The headboard itself doesn’t come apart, but the vertical posts come off.”
Perfect. At $19.95 a day plus mileage, the U-Haul cargo van is much cheaper than one of their rental trucks. By 11:30 I’d reserved online, driven to the rental lot, and then driven 50 minutes west to the store in a jolting rattling cargo van. I wrote a large (but much smaller than it could have been) check. The owner’s husband disassembled the bed. We loaded baseboards, the canopy rail, and the two posts from the foot of the bed into the van.
And then…and then…*thunder rumbles in the distance*…they were about to carry the headboard out with the two vertical posts on either side of it still attached when I asked if they would disassemble it to fit in the back of the van.
“It doesn’t come apart.”
“But I called in. You said it does.”
“No, I said it doesn’t. You asked if all those canopy pieces around the top come off.”
“Uh, no. I asked if the headboard detaches from the vertical posts on either side of it. Those canopy rails around the top are all horizontal.”
Long story short, the headboard wouldn’t fit, and U-haul couldn’t let me exchange the van at a local site since it belonged to one location. So, 50 minutes back home to drop off all the parts except the headboard, followed by gassing up the cargo van and a driving another ten minutes back to the U-haul place. Careful measuring-tape checks of available trucks. Paperwork, again. Thoughtful discount from a sympathetic U-Haul clerk. Handing over keys, again. Hitting the road, again, this time in a 14 foot truck. Back home to pick up the blankets and rope I forgot. Driving 50 minutes west to the store, again (midafternoon and no lunch yet – guess who’s cranky?). A little muttering of “Love they neighbor, love thy neighbor…even the people who don’t know the difference between vertical and horizontal and make me waste an extra $80 in rental costshowcouldtheyarghhh…I mean…sorry….love thy neighbor.” Swallowing anger, stamping a polite smile on my face and walking back into the store. Picking up headboard. Padding with blankets and strapping in place. Driving 50 minutes back to home. Awkwardly backing big hulking truck up driveway (without hitting mailbox or house!). Even more awkwardly wrestling huge headboard out of truck, across driveway, and into garage all by my scrawny self.
4:45 in the afternoon. Who was that delusional youth talking about “two hours” just this morning? Drink water, mutter imprecations, then call around to five or six local mattress stores looking for the bed frame we still need. They are all either out of stock, overpriced, or closing in 10 minutes. Finally find one store with a frame in stock at a good price. Drive truck there since I’m not sure how big the frame will be. Buy frame while politely ignoring salesman’s attempt to sell me a mattress. I have one, thank you, which is why I’m on this bizarre scavenger hunt and standing in your store looking sweaty and tired.
Frame is small enough to fit in my car, so I return truck to the rental place which is only a mile away. Rental people point out I forgot to gas it up (my brain had already gone home in a snit two hours before). They levy a hefty fine to tank up a truck, so I ask for the keys back, drive to the nearest gas station, gas up, and drive back to the rental place. Hand over key. More paperwork. Arrive home at six. Husband calls from work to say he’s on his way out. I grouse the day’s story to him over the phone, then hang up to start dinner.
The Man arrives home carrying my favorite chocolates and this bouquet. Few things put the small potatoes of a bad day into perspective like having a great husband come home at the end of it. I love him.
[ And yes, the post title is referencing this children’s picture book. Oddly enough, there was a copy in the waiting room of my doctor’s office growing up. Some nurse must have seen it and thought “Oh, perfect reading for kids about to get their immunization shots!” Look, there’s even a recording of the author reading it for the Barnes&Noble youtube channel.]