“You don’t think it’ll fly out or anything, do you?” asked my mother-in-law.

“I sure hope not,” I said. “I don’t have any straps.”

The “it” she was referring to was a king-size mattress that we’d just loaded up into the bed of my pickup. It was too big for the tailgate to close, so it was laid over against two sets of box springs, two bases, and the bed frame. I assured her and my wife that I’d drive slow. My two-year-old got in the truck to ride along with me in case anything went wrong.

It actually wasn’t the biggest load I’d ever hauled. Once, while gathering up some equipment for a film shoot in college, I’d filled the bed of my truck up entirely and then thrown a set of box springs and a mattress on top of it all. I’d had straps that time, however.

As I was driving home, about a twenty-minute drive from where I’d picked up the bed, I thought back to the time a friend and I had loaded a trailer full of square-baled straw. We weren’t sure how many trips we were going to have to take to move all the bales from where they were to where they were going, so we made the first load a big one, probably somewhere around two hundred square bales. Conveniently, we didn’t have any straps on that occasion. I’d been stacking square bales for a while at that time, and we weren’t going far, so I decided we would be alright.

The good thing about living in a small town is that when four or five square bales of straw fall off of your trailer on the highway and land on someone’s car, thus breaking their side mirror, there’s a good chance that you may know the person. Fortunately, this was the case for me.

Since I didn’t have any straps to hold the mattress down, naturally the memory of the load of straw came to mind, and I was determined to learn from my mistakes somehow, at least by being cautious.

As I was driving down the highway—the same highway I’d lost the straw bales on, conveniently—I noticed that the wind was picking up and that it was lifting the mattress up into the air. I decided to pull over to my father-in-law’s shop, which was nearby, to pick up some straps. When I got there, the only strap I could find was a short, green one, with a rusted hook on one end. I just barely managed to fit it across the mattress.

Little forms of security have a way of turning off a person’s sense of caution, even when those forms of security are potentially unreliable. If you’ve never witnessed a strap break and a king-size mattress literally fly out of a truck on a highway, you should ask the person who was driving behind me, whoever it was. Fortunately for them, the mattress managed to fly over toward a ditch and finish its flight with a smooth landing into a pile of leaves and mud.

There are many things I learned in the moments that followed. After I turned around in someone’s driveway—which conveniently had a “No Trespassing” sign—I pulled over and parked on the opposite side of the highway, across from where the mattress had landed into an unparkable ditch. The things I learned in the next few moments are as follows, but are not limited to the following:

-cars on the highway drive fast.

-two year olds can be very patient when you need them to be.

-king-size mattresses are extremely heavy, and carrying one across a highway amidst oncoming traffic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Somehow, I managed to get the mattress across the highway, and then back into the bed of my truck—which was actually harder than getting it across the highway. The ride home was nearly as eventful, as I tried to explain to my two-year-old what had just happened, all the while trying to catch my breath. He’s in the phase of asking “Why?” to everything.

At one point, I exhaled pretty loud, and he said, “What Dada?” I said, “I’m just a little tired right now buddy.” He replied, “I’m tired too.”

The next time I let out a big breath, he asked the same question, and again I said, “I’m just a little tired, buddy.”

This time, his magical response was, “Oh, well lay down on your new bed!”

Thanks for the help son. I’m glad I brought you along.

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