On Thursday of last week, Hopper and I made a commitment to join our new roommates in a Sunset apartment. Knowing that our bedroom consisted solely of a hardwood floor and a closet, our next task was to set out to purchase some basic furnishings to get us by for the next few weeks. On Saturday, we set off for the closest Ikea, which as luck would have it is located in Emeryville, a suburb of Oakland just across the San Francisco Bay. There are two ways to get there via public transportation, either the F bus from downtown or the BART train (with a 26 bus connection). Ikea is set in a small mall neighborhood that also has a Target, a Barnes and Noble, a cineplex, and a variety of smaller chain stores.
We scouted the items we thought we wanted to purchase, then returned the next day with an SUV from Budget car rental (a free upgrade which would prove fortuitous, if momentarily scary as I will soon explain).
The day before we had decided on a simple double twin pull-out bed with shelves beneath it, with the idea that it could be converted to a single twin bed during the day and take up less of our modest living space. They had been sold out, though, and by the next day we decided to go with a moderately larger "full" size bed. With our limited means, we made a plan get a mattress first and upgrade to a bed frame later.
I knew our vehicle was not large and things were going to be close. Before heading into Ikea, I measured the car. Things looked less than fantastic. With the seats down, the trunk was still less than six feet and the only way a large object would fit inside is if it was oriented diagonally, where it might barely make it if the front seats were pulled up. Horizontally, it also looked grim, with the widest space at the center of the trunk still only allowing 4.5 feet at the most, and even that was not certain.
Since we didn't have a purely scientific way to figure out if the mattress would fit, we decided the only thing to do was to buy it and hope we could squeeze it inside. We also picked up a $14.99 plastic desk chair, a $20 table, a $9.99 lamp and some bedsheets, covers and pillows. Heading out with our purchases, which turned out frighteningly beyond our budget, we wheeled things out to the car and tried to lift the mattress in.
Shit. The goddamn thing didn't fit. It was time to go to Option B- tying the mattress on top of the car. I didn't have much experience roping things to rooftops (now I do!). We took some of the free twine offered outside of Ikea and spent about 35 minutes wrapping the mattress to the rooftop frame on the car, much to the chagrin of motorists who insisted on waiting next to our car with their parking blinker on for long periods of time. For liability reasons, Ikea staff are not permitted to provide any assistance tying down rooftops. We didn't do a very good job and I take most of the blame for that.
Wrapping it as much as possible, we set off on the road. Within a few minutes, it was clear that all was not well atop the Ford Escape. We pulled over on the side of the I-80 right before the tollgate for the Bay Bridge. We had another 15 foot piece of twine left over and we set about adding this additional rope to the mix. A state trooper pulled over and asked if everything was alright. Optimistically, I said it was and that we were just strengthening the rope because it was loose.
We then drove onto the Bay Bridge, with traffic rolling through at 50 miles per hour and heavy winds pushing against us. The mattress was soon flopping all over the place. "Stop! Stop! It's going to fall!" Hopper kept crying. "What do you want me to do? We can't stop," I said. There is definitely no place to stop a vehicle in the middle of that bridge. It consistes of five highway lanes and no shoulder and it stretches out for more than three miles. This conversation repeated itself about a half-dozen times. A car driving past us to the left made motions of a mattress bouncing up and down. Yes, we know. I had visions of the mattress falling down and traffic all across the bridge coming to a halt. This is not good, not good. The only thing I could do was drive even slower, and buy the time we reached the tunnel at Treasure Island I was barely going 20 miles per hour with the blinkers on. It was a scary ten minutes. When we finally reached the other side, we pulled up next to a fire hydrant downtown and got out and fastened the mattress again. By this time, it was clear where the loose ends were and I was able to cinch new knots in that pulled the mattress down real tight. We got back in the car and drove across to Sunset without incident.
Next time we take a U-Haul.