The mattress delivery guy was disgruntled before I ever answered the door.
Recently, we bought a new mattress and an adjustable base. We couldn’t wait to have our old mattress removed, and the one installed. It was going to be delivered late morning, which meant Marnell would be at work, but I was confident there would be no problems.
The only thing the pleasant salesman failed to mention was that the base weighed approximately 230 pounds.
It was a sticky day, already oppressive at 11 am when the two delivery men arrived. The air conditioning in their delivery truck had just gone out, they told me later. Perhaps that is why, when I opened the door, I caught the burly, slightly overweight man making a bitter face to his partner, with no effort to hide his angst from me.
“It is going upstairs,” I said cheerfully. “Hopefully it’s not too much trouble.”
He sighed heavily and scowled at the open staircase as if it were a long-time enemy.
He and his buddy, a smaller man, stood and stared at the staircase.
“Sometimes we’ve lifted things over the banner,” I suggested with what I hoped was helpfulness.
“You aren’t going to lift that base,” he growled. “It’s 230 pounds.”
To his sidekick, he said, “This is reminding me of that Millersburg case. I don’t think we should take her old mattresses out until we see if we can get the base up.”
He’s actually thinking they might not be able to get it up the stairs, I realized with alarm.
They brought the base up the porch steps and through the door. They stood on either ends of the compact base, surveying the stairs dismally, panting.
“Would it help if I got someone to help?” I asked. “I can go check with my neighbor.
I went across the street to a man Marnell had been chatting with a few days before, who I knew worked second shift and would probably be home. I’ll call him Peter.
Peter answered the door and appeared to be halfway through lunch. I apologized and explained my predicament. He came, a little reluctantly, I thought, across the street with me.
Peter is a small man, and I wasn’t sure how much help he would be, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to have another man involved. Sure enough, in the house the two delivery men were still standing around the bed frame, dismally looking up at the staircase.
Peter immediately stepped on to the stairs and suggested that the frame be lifted up on to the rail, and then allowed to tip over the rail.
“Can’t,” the men replied. “We just tried that and the adjustable frame slides open.”
“Do you have rope?” Peter asked.
“No,” said the heavy-set man.
“Well, I have rope,” said Peter. “I can run grab some. But how about we lift it like this and then I do this…”
Peter was making gestures, and the men agreed to line up the frame beneath the stairs. They managed to turn it the wrong way, which would expose the wooden staircase to the metal mechanics of the bottom of the bed.
“What if you would back it into the other room and turn around?” I suggested, pointing out that the soft side would be better on the stairs.
The fact that I had just made a suggestion demonstrated the utter futility of the situation.
They turned it around and placed it beside the railing.
“I don’t know,” said the big man, shaking his head dismally and looking at the stairs.
“Well, what if we just try it?” I said, desperate to have our new bed in its place. The threat that they might just give up was becoming an increasing possibility.
How can a bed delivery company not know how to deliver beds? I wondered.
“Well, we can try it,” the big man said. “But if I get to the place where I feel like it’s not safe, or I feel like we’re going to get hurt, or that you’re going to get hurt–“
He looked up at Peter.
Peter, arms spread on the railing, looked back down at him.
“I am not going to get hurt.”
The men stared at him in silence, and the temperature of the room seemed to fluctuate.
“Don’t let my looks deceive you,” Peter went on. “I work for eight hours a day lifting heavier stuff than this.”
The frame made it over the rail, and Peter, almost single-handedly, drug it up the wooden stairs. Only one of the other men could fit at the bottom, and he seemed to be functioning mostly as a place holder. Peter, on the other hand twisted into something close to a pretzel shape and lost both plastic sandals, and a few moments later the frame was on the second floor.
“I guess you don’t need me anymore,” he said, with a hint of satisfaction.
Upstairs, the mattress delivery guys were scurrying around with our old mattress and box spring. They seemed to have been infused with sudden energy. Downstairs, I gave Peter a Mountain Dew and privately thanked him on the porch.
“Thank you very much. I’m not sure we would have gotten it up without you.”
He laughed and walked home to finish his lunch.