Thursday, April 17, 2014

the not-so-subtle prison mattress

When I make or accept a request to 'work over,' to work when I'm scheduled to be home annoying my wife and stressing my liver, one of the first things that pop into my mind is 'what kind of mattresses do they have there?'

 Despite what I'm sure are many requests to the contrary, we're still equipping workboats with prison mattresses- coil springs lined with felt, encased in rough synthetic fire-resistant fabric. Costs $39.95.  I checked.

 My own floating palace, the Afloat Global HQ, has better mattresses than I've got at home. And you know, I sleep better at work than I do at home. Consequently, I may be ill-tempered, inclined to bitchery (I'm a sailor. Like seagulls, we're known to do 3 things only: eat, squawk and shit.), and just a fucking ray of sunshine all day, but I'm usually able to fall asleep in short order, and sometimes wake up hours later having not moved an inch, and still comfortable for it.

 Take this week's boat. One of the finest-built and well-equipped small barges I've ever been on. Someone at Bollinger needs to be knighted. BUT, prison mattresses, which means my rotator cuffs feel like I've got hot sand in them, and I wake up every 20 minutes to move. It's a teeny-tiny mattress, and I'm not a teeny tiny man. I'm waking up to roll over, as I can't actually roll over and still be in bed. I have to wake up, prop up on one arm, and do a barrel roll in place. So it goes.

 "But they're fireproof!" No, they're not. They're fire-resistant. And you know, I'd rather be well-rested than have the extra warm fuzzy that comes with the knowledge that my bed isn't going to burn as fast as the mountain of clothing, rugs and other cloth sundries in my bedroom will. I don't wear nomex underwear. My clothes would still catch fire even if my bed didn't, and if I slept naked to be a little more fire-safe, I'd be creating a hostile work environment. Jealousy affects productivity, you know. You don't get this physique just by sitting around. You've got to eat AND sit around.

 Anyhow, I'm not actually bitching just to bitch. My point is that there's a disconnect between vessel construction and crew productivity as measured by cost containment. Design a vessel with poor athwartship movement access, you get guys hurt and slowed down by crawling over and tripping over everything that gets in the way. Prison mattresses rob crew of essential sleep, which is it's own reward payable in decreased productivity and increased long-term medical costs... not to mention that the $300 mattress I sleep on is 5 years old and as good as new, while the prison mattress is good for maybe a year. The downside there, though, is that sailors can be filthy, filthy bastards. I've had to throw relatively new mattresses overboard (in the open ocean, on a ship, not in the brown water I sail over these days) because a filthy animal slept fully-clothed without using sheets on a mattress.
 Actually, I don't know what's worse- a disgusting man with poor hygiene who sleeps in his work clothes, or a disgusting man with poor hygiene who sleeps naked. Needless to say, that experience ended in a lot of work gloves following the mattress into the water, and the man in question being blackballed from returning.

 Well, thanks for listening. The tylenol kicked in, and now my shoulders feel better.


HT said...

Know what your talking about too Paul,I was a harbor whore myself out there for over 30 years. I used to carry my own pillow,blanket and fitted sheet with me.And when I got on board and seen a prison mattress I would go over to the spill equipment lockers and get some sausage booms and promptly put them fitted tightly under the poor-mans mattress.And make up bed with my own gear...and WA-la was good to go!!! It makes it a little hard and after a little while settles down, I have a bad neck,back and shoulder so I had to do what I had to do to get a good nites sleep.Try it after a couple of days it gets better.

jon spencer said...

One of these might help, Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream.
I use a different model for camping and it is about as comfortable as you can expect.
They roll up to a reasonable size too.