Any film aficionado will know the old trope of the hostage crisis. For those who don’t it goes something like this: a quiet bank/office/department store is suddenly engulfed by a swarm of clown/president/hockey masked assailants carrying military grade hardware and demanding all the cash/gold/Kenwood smoothie makers. Some forward thinking person presses the silent alarm and before you can say ‘Yippee Ki A’ the building is surrounded by police/SWAT/sentient robotic ninjas. After a tense stand-off, a hostage negotiator is sent in to calm the situation carrying a hidden gun/taser/pizza. What follows is either a heroic death at the hands of the hostage takers, a heroic tasering by the hostage takers or a heroic pizza eating contest followed by all of the above. Since I don’t reside in the realms of Hollywood make believe I have, for the last thirty years, avoided such calamities. That was until recently when I happened to accidentally wander haplessly into my own personal hostage negotiation.
While most movie crises end after a few hours, mine has been dragging it’s heels for two weeks. Oddly, given the situation, we caved into the hostage takers demands fairly early on and paid a hefty ransom. It occurs to me now that this was our first mistake. If I had not been distracted, I would have remembered to either electronically tag the money, only agree to pay half now and half on the arrival or at least had the FBI follow the package back to the bad guys hideout. As I’m clean out of electronic tags and the FBI haven’t been returning my calls since my ill judged attempt to contact Mulder and Scully concerning the weird noises in my loft (it was a squirrel), I probably could have just settled for the old half and half. Then again, I didn’t really think about it too much at the time. I mean, I had been negotiating with the hostage takers representative for over an hour. I was tired, slightly bored and desiring a cheese sandwich. Anyway, how was I to know buying a mattress would turn into A Dog Day Afternoon.
Yes gentle reader, the hostage in question is a mattress, well actually two mattresses. Not just any old mattresses either, these bad boys (or possibly girls, I can never tell) have some space age technology that makes them flatter…or softer…or…OK I don’t really know, but damn they were comfy. Although I was preoccupied by lunch fantasies, I’m fairly certain the salesman promised a six week delivery period. That deadline quietly passed us by two weeks ago. Now my girlfriend and I are in the midst of negotiating some kind of resolution. It turns out that buying the damn thing was easy, actually finding anyone to physically get it to us is the hard part. Everyone we call has the same stock answer ‘this is not my responsibility’. I find this answer rather surprising, especially when you consider we didn’t even ask them for a quick run-down of their day to day work functions. The question I find myself asking is one worthy of Confucius himself: if a mattress is bought in a shop, and there is no one responsible for it, does it get delivered? Unlike most other ancient Chinese proverbs, this one has an answer. It’s no.
The real victim of this crises is not actually me, or my girlfriend, but the forlorn looking bed that sits abandoned in our flat. It is literally not fit for use. Sure it looks nice, but every time I go in to get something it looks at me with its gaping maw, where a mattress should sit and asks ‘why do you hate me?’. I can take a guilt trip, but not one from an innocent piece of furniture. What has he (I know it’s a he, I checked underneath) ever done to anyone? How long must this horror continue? How many more phone calls must we endure? If this was a movie, the SWAT team would have sniped someone by now or at least infiltrated the bank/office/department store with one of those funny bendable cameras. Obviously there is only one option. Tonight I shave my head, don a string vest and wade into the fray via the air ducts.