Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Tale of the Queen-size Bed Frame by Saralee Sky

OK, so we are hosting a B&B in our home. We decided to try it after the grad student moved out of our studio apartment. We furnished the apartment with furniture from our house to start: we used an antique desk and modern desk lamp from my office, a wrought iron double bed from our guest room with pillows and sheets and blankets, some lamps and a wicker mirror and wicker table also from our guest room, a wicker chair and ottoman from our living room. A bookcase and eating bar with stools were already in the apartment. We took pictures/wall hangings from all over the house, including the boxes in our garage. Then I went to Goodwill and got kitchen items - dishes and pots and pans and utensils. We took towels we already had and Voila! we had an Adorable Furnished Studio Apartment.
We listed the apartment with and cross-listed on Craigslist/vacation rentals in Bellingham. Airbnb enabled us to take credit cards and eliminated the spam that came from listing on Craigslist. You know, messages like: 'I prefer not to use a credit card. How about if I send you some money via Western Union? Ooops I sent you too much money! Just deposit the money in your own account and send me back the extra.' THOSE kinds of messages.
Anyway everything was proceeding along nicely until someone sent me an inquiry and asked if the bed was a double or a queen. It's a double, I replied. Oh, I really do not like doubles, they wrote back. I would rent your apartment if only you had a queen-size bed. Hmmmm, I wondered. Were there other people who looked at my pictures, noticed we had only a double bed and decided to take a pass?
We decided to buy a queen-size bed and return the double to our guest room. After all, we didn't want family and friends (read: non-paying guests) sleeping on the floor when they visited. I started looking at Craigslist ads that had pictures. I was willing to buy a used set as long as the mattress and box spring were relatively new and very clean-looking.
I found a few but they were sold by the time I noticed them and sent an inquiry. Pickings were slim for some reason. Then I found an ad/set I liked and emailed the guy who placed the ad. He still had it and would even deliver within the Bellingham city limits for an additional $10. That meant us. We went to see the mattress set and discovered that he had no metal frame. I was SURE he said he had one in the ad.
"No," he said, "I never said that." It must have been the other ads I perused.
"You can always get one at Goodwill for $10 or so," he said. Sure, I thought, how hard could it be? Answer: VERY hard, but I'll get to that later.
We paid the guy and he threw in the delivery for free. He and Jer loaded the set into his truck and we drove in caravan back to our house. We stored the set in our garage until we got a metal frame.
I heard again from the woman who only wanted a queen-size bed. We've decided we can squeeze into a double for a few days, she wrote. They booked the studio for a few weeks hence.
I was able to respond and say, Guess what? You won't need to squeeze into a double. We will have a queen-size bed ready for you by the time you arrive. Right? Maybe not.
I started perusing Craigslist looking for a metal frame for a queen-size bed, but could only find them attached to a mattress and box-spring. All of a sudden there was a plethora ('Would you say I had a plethora of pinatas?') of queen-size mattresses with and without box-springs and all with metal frames. All, that is, but the set in our garage. I emailed the people selling the bed sets and told them if they still had the metal frame left after their mattress and box spring were sold, I would take it off their hands. Never heard from any of them of course. Who buys a used mattress and box spring without the metal frame? No one, if you do not count us.
I started calling Goodwill, Salvation Army and Value Village.
Goodwill: "We don't have any used ones in, but we'll sell you a brand new metal frame for $49.95." What were they doing selling new stuff? No thanks! $50! Pshaw!
Salvation Army: "We don't have any in stock, but if we did they would be $14.95." OK.
Value Village: "We only have twins and double frames in but if we did have a queen-size one it would be $9.95. Keep calling." OK, I will.
And I did. I called them all every day. I made friends with the guy from Value Village. Kevin. He actually took pity on me and promised to call me when a queen-size frame showed up. While I liked Kevin fine as a phone buddy, I just didn't trust that he would actually call, so I kept calling him, or anyone else at Value Village who would answer the phone, then find someone to go and look. During one call the guy who answered said, "Yes! We DO have one. Better hurry!"
Jer and I jumped into the car and drove all the way across town to Value Village. We live in the SW corner of Bellingham and Value Village is in the NE corner. No matter; we were saving money, right? We got there and it was NOT a queen-size frame. It was a double. The guy I talked to was wrong. He wasn't Kevin. He just didn't know. Sigh.
A few days later we were in Seattle at a baby shower for my son and daughter-in-law and I got a call from Kevin!
"Hi Kevin! Good to hear your voice. Have you got a queen-size metal frame?"
"Yes I do!"
"Wow! How cool is that? Only one problem, we're in Seattle. How long can you hold it?"
"One hour." Shit! We were 2 hours away and were not even driving our car.
"We'll just have to come in on Monday and hope you still have it."
"OK. Good luck." Yeah.
Monday morning Jer and I headed off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to Value Village. At last! We ran over to the metal frame bin. We knew just where it was, in the far-back corner of the store buy the used pictures and other furniture type things. Could Kevin have been wrong? He wasn't there of course. Could it have sold? The only frames we could find were for double beds.
"OK, that's it," said Jer. "We're buying a double frame. Then we'll go over to Hardware Sales and buy some angle iron." (Whatever the hell that is.)" I'll drill holes in it and it will act as an extension to the double frame, making it big enough for a queen. I'll bolt it together. It'll work fine." How hard could it be? Don't ask.
We bought the double metal frame and even had a coupon reducing the $9.95 cost by $3 to $6.95. Let's not add in our time or the gas to drive there twice or anything, OK?
Next stop, Hardware Sales. Amazing, angle iron actually exists and in many sizes. Jer picked out a 6 foot piece and we bought it: $20 give or take. Then we went into another building where they cut metal and did other cool stuff and they cut the piece in half for us, sparks flying. Angle iron is apparently not made of iron, but steel, bent in a 90 degree shape or angle.
Back home we go, where Jer proceeds to drill holes in the angle iron, ruining one of his drill bits. He fastened the pieces to the top and bottom bars of the frame and Voila! (yes, again) we had a queen-size metal frame. Just in time for the couple who so wanted a queen-size bed. They were arriving the very next day.
We assembled the bed, dressed it all up with new sheets and a blanket and a comforter/spread we already had and we were ready for our guests. We were out almost $30 for the frame, and lots of time and effort, but still we did NOT have to buy a new one so we were ahead, right? Wait.
The couple arrived and spent two days in the studio. When they checked out on Sunday morning, the woman mentioned, "Oh, the frame broke last night while we were sleeping."
"Really? That's awful! Why didn't you call us?"
"Oh, my husband put some phone books under the end that broke and that held it up for the rest of the night. Just thought you should know."
I was wondering why I put two phone books in the desk drawer. As my friend Cathy later said, "It must have been foresight!"
Back to Craigslist, bloodied but not bowed. I found a queen-size mattress for sale with a metal frame with - wait for it - a wooden headboard! Be still my heart. I emailed the guy and said I only wanted the frame and headboard. I would pay him $20 and come get it. He lived about 30 miles away in Birch Bay. I gave him my phone number. He called and said if he couldn't sell it as a unit he would call me back the next day. He called! He decided to donate the mattress to Goodwill and sell us the frame and headboard. Yes!
We decided to make a day of it and go to the beach with our grandson after we got the frame (and headboard). We really liked the guy. Until recently he and his wife had lived aboard their sailboat. He was busy fixing up the tiny house they bought and she was busy buying up every sort of plant and tree. Guess they were enjoying being earth-bound for a change.
And here the saga ends. We are out ~$50 total. Yep. The same amount a brand new metal frame costs at Goodwill. But we had adventures along the way and now this article. Priceless, right? Maybe not.