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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

On Mattresses and Mormons

When my wife and I got engaged, we quickly learned there were many requirements we needed to meet in order to get our new marriage off to a good start. The first priority was securing a place to live, but also high on the list was purchasing a bed.

When we went shopping for mattresses, neither one of us were prepared for the dark and mysterious labyrinth we were about to enter.

We began by visiting some large, consumer style furniture warehouses where they had a large selection of mattresses. We laid on the beds to get an idea how they felt and then jotted down names and costs so we could visit some other furniture stores to comparison shop.

There is a large mattress chain in the LA area called "Sit-n-Sleep" that has some of the most annoying radio commercials in broadcasting history. The tag line, always read by the owner, is "I'll beat any advertised price or your mattress is freeeeeeee!" My then fiancee and I thought we would call them and read to a sales rep the names and prices of the mattresses we liked to see if they could beat the price. My wife-to-be talked with a sales rep and when she gave him the name of the mattresses he says, "Never heard of them." He went on, "Are you sure this is a legitimate mattress place?"

After the phone call, we thought we would call some of the smaller stores in the area. We received similar responses from the various places we contacted: "we never heard of those mattresses." We thought this was weird, because these were brand name mattresses like Sealy and Simmons. My wife finally asked one of the many sales reps we had spoken with, "You mean to tell me you never heard of a Sealy Night Rest mattress?" The guy said, "Well, I have heard of Sealy, but not a Night Rest mattress." We thought this was the most bizarre things we had heard... UNTIL we were told the secret of mattresses.

We were is what was probably our 10th furniture store and we were pouring out our mattress shopping woes to this salesman. He became all quiet, then looked around to see if we were alone, and with a lowered voice he says, "Let me tell you a secret." He moved in close to us and got a real serious look on his face like he was about to tell us how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. In a hushed voice he says to us, "All mattress stores basically carry the same mattresses, they just give them different style names so customers can't comparison shop." That is why no one had heard of a Sealy "Night Rest," because they sold Sealy "Beauty Rest" which is the exact same mattress, but with a different name. He went on to explain to us that what we needed to do was write down 4 or 5 main specifications of the mattresses we liked and present that information when doing price comparison.

Armed with this "top secret" information, we called the big mattress retailer who told us they had never heard of those mattresses we mentioned. "We know how your scam is played," my wife told the sales rep, "do you have a mattress that meets these specifications and can you beat the price offered by this other store?" There was a long, silent pause on the phone, and finally a voice replies, "we can give it to you for 9 dollars less."

No wonder this place never gives away a free mattress.

Even after all that we went through, we eventually went to Costco and bought one of the mattresses they sold.

So, all of that to tell you this...

Our mattress has been breaking down the last 6 months or so. Springs are poking out the sides and each morning when I wake up, my back is killing me. My wife experiences similar discomfort. We realized we needed to dig in and buy a new mattress. However, anyone who has shopped for mattresses realize how expensive they can be.

Last week my wife sees an ad in our local "Penny Saver" newspaper of a guy selling a queen sized mattress still in the wrapping for 100 bucks. We thought it would be below the average mattress, but would serve us well until we were in a financial position to buy a really good one.

My wife called the number and spoke with the guy who was selling the mattress and he said he had several others we could look at for a little bit more. The deal sounded shady to me, because he didn't have a store, but sold them out of a self-storage unit. He met us there at night, so my first reaction was that we were being set up to be mugged.

Well, we weren't mugged, and the guy shows up in a big pickup and leads us to his unit where he has lined up in a row seven beds of different makes and models. After sitting, laying, and bouncing, and him convincing us he was on the up and up as a liquidator for a bigger store down in Orange County, we bought a memory foam mattress. It was more than we anticipated buying, but worth every penny since it was delivered Saturday; my back will testify to that.

As the guy was writing up our invoice, my wife asks, "So, where do you go to Church?" He looked up and said, "I'm Mormon." "Really!?" my wife replied as her eyes brightened to his response, "We just had two Mormon missionaries over to our house for dinner." He was sort of stunned by her comment and said "Really? What did you think about what they said?" or something along those lines. I interjected that we had them over for evangelistic purposes because we wanted to share with them the true gospel. From that point on, and for about 20 minutes, I basically rehashed a mini-version of our conversation we had with the Mormon missionaries at our house.

One thing I thought was stunning was his ready appeal to postmodern, relativistic ideas of there being many "truths" and there is no need to really verify the evidence for the Book of Mormon, but we should just believe it with our hearts. I basically ended our conversation as I did with the previous Mormon missionaries by telling him, "Look, we both can't be right. Either I am wrong and you are right, or its the other way around." I concluded by saying, "You need to weigh the eternal consequences of your chosen faith in light of what I have told you here tonight." And with that we parted ways.

He dropped off the mattress at our house and we had a pleasant time chit-chatting with him, but our conversation never returned to his Mormonism. I just thought to myself about how all that run around the first time we bought a mattress in a way had a bearing upon this one moment nearly 7 years later in the life of one guy who may have heard the gospel for the first time.

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