Eloise and Her Mattress


Eloise set her frying pan down after the seventh round of scrubbing the morning’s burnt breakfast off of it. The water kept running, but she didn’t care. She ran towards the living room to catch the tail-end of a local mattress store ad. Some sort of blowout sale. The one she had been waiting for all year.

She had heard mattress stores had one major sale per year, but she didn’t remember when. And her back had been killing her, especially after she got disability from the potato processing plant. “12 hours only! Today!” it said. And damn, that pillow top mattress was only $599 with free delivery and 24 months by payment at 0 percent interest. But, her car was still broken. She needed about a thousand to fix her up. Had saved only about 300 so far. Maybe she could take the bus. She had all day after all.

The sound of the running water suddenly felt like money cascading out of her bank account and sweet dreams slipping out of her grasp. She scrubbed the rest of those dishes with varying probabilities of soap-to-water ratios – she didn’t care. Quick hands dried themselves on the front of her PJs. And upstairs she went to throw on lipstick, no other makeup, a pair of faded jeans, a white t-shirt and hair up in a pony tail secured with a rubber band from the bundle of green onions she just used in her breakfast omelette.

The stupid bus only came once every half hour so it was profitable to hurry – not try to time it. Just get there as fast as possible on a gamble and be willing to accept waiting 29 minutes if the bus had just pulled out the moment you got there. Thank God the bus was air conditioned. Eloise undulated with the potholes and kept her purse in front of her tightly clutched. She knew she might not qualify for the 24 months of credit so she brought the 300 dollars she had saved for the car and had some emergency prepaid Visa cards that she had been gifted over a few Christmases, birthdays and Mother’s Days.

The strip mall was barren, but not for nothing they were trying to make up for the lack of people energy with a wildly flailing air mannequin towering side-to-side in front of the discount mattress store. The showroom was even colder than the bus. Thank goodness for American air conditioning. The sweet, arctic air from the ceiling vents enhanced the fresh chemical scents that lulled browsers to take off their shoes and lay down for a bit.

A young, 19-year-old-looking kid, Kyle, came up and asked if he could help. Not really, she thought. She needed someone who could trick the system so she could get credit even though she was on disability. But Eloise decided to be direct. “I need to get that $599 pillow-top mattress from your TV ad this morning. I’m on disability right now, but I need someone who can try to get me the 24 months at 0%. I could put some money down if you need me to.”

Kyle breathed in and out slowly. And then he gently gestured the woman toward the mattress on special and said, “Of course, I’m the owner’s son. I can help you out. But let’s see if you like the mattress first. Why don’t you lie down and see if you can imagine yourself on this every night.”

Eloise sat down gingerly at first. Then swung her feet up and let her shoes hit the protective plastic cover. Even without a pillow she felt her body melt into rest. A long overdue peace. “It’s perfect,” she said.

thank goodness for american air conditioning

“We can have it out for you by this evening since it’s still early. Just put $150 down in cash and we can set up a 24-month payment plan,” replied Kyle. Eloise let out a squeal but stayed eyes-closed on top of the mattress, just letting her new future sink in.

Kyle had a feeling Eloise would be a good credit risk and even if she weren’t, the wholesale cost of the mattress would be covered by her $150 down payment. Right now was a good moment. A win-win moment for everyone.


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