One of my neighbors dragged a mattress out to the curb the other day, and he taped a big piece of cardboard to the side, a handwritten sign in black permanent marker that said: “Do not take! Bedbugs!”
All I could think about was, what the hell man, who goes around town shopping for mattresses on the side of the road? I mean, somebody might take it, and that somebody is probably going to be really down on their luck. In fact, if you’re at the point where you’re looking at a mattress that’s been tossed out to the sidewalk and you’re thinking, man, I could really use this mattress, I’m guessing that you’re not going to be curious about bedbugs, you’re just going to go ahead and assume, free mattress, bedbugs.
So it’s like, what are you doing putting that sign up? You’re not even giving whoever needs that mattress anything to hope for. Because bedbugs won’t necessarily bite you. Every once in a while you’ll run into a coworker or an acquaintance that has the misfortune of landing a bedbug infestation, and it’s always the same conversation, “I don’t know, my wife got eaten alive, but I was fine, no bites, nothing.”
And that’s assuming that whoever wants the mattress still takes the mattress. You’re not thinking about how hard it is claiming a used mattress from the side of the road. It’s like, used lawn furniture, fine, that’s perfectly acceptable. Even heavy furniture, solid pieces of wood type stuff, I’d say that’s all fair game. But couches? Anything with a cushion? No, there’s a stigma attached to all of that stuff, namely, who has been sitting or sleeping on this? What else have they been doing there? And are there bedbugs?
Of course there are probably bedbugs, you don’t need proof. If someone’s throwing away a mattress, it’s because either the springs have gotten so bent out of shape that they’re busting through the fabric, or it’s bedbugs. My aunt bought a new mattress a few years ago, and you know what she did with her old mattress? She gave it to me. I needed a mattress. I wasn’t about to go shopping for used mattresses, because most used mattresses, unless is something that you’re getting from a trusted family member, I’m telling you, bedbugs.
The street is the last place you want to pick up a secondhand mattress. Anywhere else besides that very trusted family member is the second to last place you want to look. Oh, but someone’s offering a lightly used thousand dollar space-foam mattress box-spring combo for a hundred and fifty? Bedbugs. Seriously, save yourself a trip, it’s bedbugs, and the original owners, having just spent upwards of a grand on what I’m sure is a barely used piece of expensive furniture, they’re just unable to come to terms with the fact that it’s been invaded by bedbugs. They’re thinking, “This can’t be. We just spent all of this money. Surely it has to be worth something. Maybe we can get a couple hundred off of someone on craigslist.”
It’s bedbugs. And that guy standing outside of your house looking at that mattress, putting his arms around the sides, seeing if he can carry it away by himself or if he’ll need to get some sort of a rope so he can drag it away, he’s thinking bedbugs too. He’s thinking bedbugs, but he doesn’t care, because it’s a free mattress, and like I’ve already spelled it out for you, he’s not worried about bedbugs, he’s shopping for mattresses on the street.
And so you put this homemade sign up, “Bedbugs!” all you’re doing it taking away this guy’s fleeting hope, not even a conscious hope really, but a long-shot prayer, that maybe this thing doesn’t have bedbugs. And even if it does have bedbugs, maybe it’ll be the kind of bedbugs that won’t bite him. And so when he’s sleeping at night, and those little guys start crawling out of wherever they crawl out of, and they’re walking all up and down his body, they’re not biting him, and he’s not itching, and by the time he wakes up in the morning, they’re back inside however it is they get back inside that mattress. He’s thinking, this is a nice mattress, and I don’t have any bites. Maybe this thing is bedbug free after all. Maybe I hit the free mattress jackpot.
Not with that “Bedbug!” sign, he won’t. And then think about everybody else on the block, they’re all staring out the window, they’re watching this guy sizing up your bedbug labeled piece of trash. It’s like a scarlet letter, you might as well have spray-painted the side with a giant B. The whole picture comes into stark relief, this guy, he’s going for it anyway, and we’re all watching, the pity, the disgust.
Seriously, don’t worry about a bedbug sign. You want to throw it out? Just throw it out. You don’t label your trash bags, “Garbage!” on trash day. If a homeless person wants to look through it for bottles or whatever, it’s just going to happen. You’re not doing anybody any favors. And plus, now everybody knows your house has bedbugs. You think that’s good for the property value? For the other houses on the block? Keep that shit to yourself man, nobody wants to know about your bedbugs.