Until I was nearly decapitated by a piece of bedroom furniture under the influence of gravity, I hadn’t worried overly much about this as a fate. The odds seemed pretty remote, to be honest. I’d have to be pretty unlucky to be walking past a high-rise at the very moment a crackhead on the 17th floor decided on a radical domestic makeover. A renegade installation/performance artist didn’t seem too likely, either. I tend to avoid areas where urban warriors are making mischief. Nonetheless I came very close indeed to being killed by a falling bed.
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I was quietly minding my own business in the wilds of the Lincolnshire fens when a bed hit me on the head. Only a glancing blow; another 2” and I’d have had my ears level with my collarstud. I was fortunately pretty much unhurt, but more than a little startled, as I think you would have been. Now this is where it gets a bit more bizarre. Two new problems sprang to light, one that needed immediate attention, and one that would have to wait a little while.
Problem 1 was that I couldn’t see, which might not have mattered too much had I not been, at the time of my near-death experience, driving a vehicle 9’ high, 8’ wide. 16’ long, and with a gross weight of 3.5 tons. Those circumstances are less than ideal ones in which to be hit on the head by a bed, then be unisghted.
It was a Hymer campervan of ancient and uncertain lineage. One of the more cunning design features was that one of the double bunks was stored at ceiling height over the driver/front passenger seats. Come time for beddie-byes, you released some securing straps, and the bunk swung down over the seats and into the area over the dashboard. Neat. All fine and dandy if the securing straps don’t give way when you’re pulling into a truck stop.
Because the bed is now in front of you as the driver, and at eyelevel. You can’t see over it, and there’s hardly any room to see under it. It’s like driving through a letterbox. You’re unexpectedly in the middle of your first instruments landing, and Air Traffic Control have lost you off the radar.
One thing to do, and one thing only. Stop. I jumped on the brakes. This caused some annoyance to the people behind, but I was in no position to explain at that point. That would have to wait till my feet were safely down on the flightdeck.
Problem 2 was a bit trickier to get round. I’m now trapped in the driver’s seat of an RV by a bed. There’s no driver’s door on a Hymer, so you get out of the driver’s seat into a central aisle between the seats. Except with a bed blocking vertical movement, that’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s quite a task simply to get your seatbelt unfastened given the restrictions on the movement of your arms caused by the presence of a bed about 4” in front of them. Then you have to slide out. Again, easier said than done. If you’ve ever tried to slide out of the driver’s seat into the passenger seat of a car, you’ll know there’s all manner of things in the way. Steering wheel, pedals, control stalks, transmission hump, seatbelt mounts, gearlever, handbrake. Plus normally you have a degree of freedom of movement of your upper body that you really don’t have when you’re trying to squeeze out from under the steering wheel with a rogue bed in the way. A slight headache saps your strength and concentration too.
Meanwhile a lot of truckers were getting a bit aerated that I was blocking the access route, and making their displeasure felt. The excuse ‘Sorry, I got hit by a bed,’ is frankly not a very plausible one. But oh! How they laughed when I explained my predicament! The people in the burger van, too. I had them rolling in the aisles, I can tell you.
Might not have been so funny if things had gone wrong about two minutes before when I was doing 50 mph on a crowded dual carriageway, I suppose.