View Full Version : Way, The mattress and the traffic control room

20th Jan 2008, 12:54 AM
Here's a thing that happened to me a few years ago. I hope you enjoy the trouble I got into. SWMBO just rolled her eyes.

We purchased a small investment property in Balmain, Sydney. It’s about 6km from the CBD. The studio flat is so small it requires a loft-bed to save room. It was fully furnished vacant possession but our first tenant was due to move in on the weekend, so Friday morning I went over and made the place ready for her. I dropped in a new stove and extra bench top, some minor fix-ups and cleaning but while I was there I got a call from the property manager saying the tenant didn’t want the double bed mattress and asked to have it removed. I had my tools, a box of rubbish and off-cuts and the mattress to pack back into my Hundai Sportswagon.

Like, it's a really really big car. Not.

The Sportswagon:

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever carried a double bed mattress on your own. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to carry one down two flights of stairs. It’s large, heavy, flexible but springy and generally awkward. It’s an inanimate object that somehow manages to fight back. After a bit of a struggle I get it to the car. It’s too wide and too long to fit into the tiny cargo bay so it has to go on the roof. But I can’t lift it high enough on my own so I stopped a bloke walking by and he helped out. I carry two ratchet operated tie-downs in the back so I made quick use of them and got under way.

So far so good.

The ANZAC Bridge on the edge of Australia’s largest city carries a huge volume of traffic each day. It’s monitored by CCTV back at the Traffic Control Centre. It’s a gia-normous bridge made for cars and buses. We’re talking no man’s land here. Do not stop, do not turn, grit your teeth and just drive FFS type of bridge.

One doesn’t want to break down on this bridge.

The ANZAC Bridge

I am driving along the merge lane on the approaches to this intimidating construct. I hear a horn behind me and glance at the revision mirror in time to see a car swerve out of my lane flowed instantly by what looks like a double bed mattress doing it’s impersonation of a wayward kite.

It has a nice tail, I think to myself, as I realise the tie-downs are of the same colour. Holy Moses!

I hit the anchors and pull into the V shape lane-merging area. Cars are whizzing past at 60+kms an hour, some blowing horns to let me know there’s a mattress on the road and that it looks upset.

I rush over, grab it and drag it off the lane and up behind my car. I am truly in no man's land. It’s like 6-8 lanes wide. And I can’t lift it on my own. Looking around I find the tie-downs, both are snapped, what’s more the strain has destroyed one of the ratchets.

Oh boy.

I am looking around for a solution when my eyes fall across a sign that says “In case of breakdown, do not leave vehicle. Monitored 24hrs day.”

Oh bother.

Not only am copping sweet comments from passing motorists but I am on candid camera back at Traffic Control. All sorts of things are rushing through my mind.
The guy back at traffic control is on a microphone calling the tow service to go out and rescue a mattress and it’s hapless owner from the bridge.
He calls over his mates and they're all standing around the monitor pointing at me and laughing.
I wonder if they are taking bets on my next move.
I wonder what fine I may face.
I realise I simply can’t drive off, they’ll have my number plate.There’s nothing for it. I try to lift the mattress onto the roof in a vain hope that the one working tie-down and scraps from the other will hold it in place if I go slowly enough. Go slowly enough? On this Bridge? It will cause chaos. And where to then? The bridge exits into the city, then onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then into more city streets or freeways. I can’t even pop into a hardware store… there aren’t any for miles!

Just then, as I am struggling with the thing a Taxi pulls up. He kindly helps me with it and off he’s goes again. Great! Now it’s on the roof bars, so I start strapping it down. I can imagine there’s money changing hands in the Traffic Control Centre.

Oh no!

The second tie-down is so busted I can’t get enough strap to tie it down with. I’ve just spent 10minutes trying to unwind it and all the time I’m conscious of that damn Traffic Control Room party and the apporaching tow truck. There’s money changing back again.

I give up, there’s no way I can take this mattress anywhere.

I like to consider myself a resourceful man. A plan! I drag the mattress off the roof, across a lane of traffic and dump the mattress over the side of the bridge. Hop back into my car, continue across the bridge, get off the freeway, turn around, come back over the bridge back into Balmain, park, and go back and get the mattress on foot. Find a hardware store and buy some bigger straps.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. In fact, not only was it my only idea but there was nothing else I could do. I couldn’t wait for the tow truck. The humiliation would reduce me to a mass of jelly quivering on the road.

Meanwhile, the traffic control centre has called co-workers from downstairs and the crowd around the monitor is getting bigger.

They watch me man handle this mattress from the car at a suitable break in the traffic, drag it like mad across the lane, heave and push, pull and persuade the mattress over the safety rail and let it fall. It doesn’t go far. It’s fallen on a pedestrian footbridge. No one was injured, in fact I am in luck, there’s no one in sight.
See ‘A’ on the photo below


20th Jan 2008, 12:56 AM
I race back to the car, take off and carry out the plan.

I’m driving along. The image of money changing hands is back in my mind. I giggle because they all think I’ve dumped it and done a runner. The crowd is thinning as they go back to work shaking their heads and the guy is writing down my rego number and filing a report about the dumper on the ANZAC bridge. “We’ll get that guy in the Hyundai”

I don’t know if moments later he saw me recross the bridge heading in the opposite direction. If he did, he’d be calling his mates again to let them know something is up.

I find a parking spot so far away from the mattress that I wonder how I’m going to get it back. I decide to get it before I get new tie-downs so off I trek. Luckily the footpath was there, if not it would have fallen quite a distance into a wharf area and been almost impossible to access.

I reach the thing but I am not alone. There’s someone approaching me in the distance and two nice looking young ladies following me. I have no idea what they were thinking when the guy ahead suddenly stops walking, bends over, picks up an old dumped double bed mattress and puts it on his back and starts off with it.

I just smiled as I passed. See ‘B’ on the photo.

Then I smiled with the thought of what the Traffic Controller must be thinking.

Surprisingly it was easy to carry. I stood it up, backed into it, let it fall over my back and shoulders until balanced and sort of half stood-half bent over. By reaching out with both arms I was able to steady it and walk at a reasonable pace. I couldn’t see too far ahead of me and after a while my neck began to ache so my vision became quite restricted.

I occasionally saw lower legs and feet walk past.

After about 10 minutes I had to rest so I backed up to a wall and let it slide off my back and stood upright. There were several cars sitting at the lights with occupants all staring at me. What a sight! Here was this lone bloke with a mattress in the middle of nowhere staring at half a dozen people staring at him. The lights changed, I relaxed a little and caught my breath. See ‘C’ on the photo.

I set off again. A few moments later two steel poles appeared as I walked bent over. But before I could realise the significance the mattress bounced backward and tried to break free! I wobbled all over the footpath trying to regain my balance and keep hold of the rotten thing. I failed and we both went over. I am sitting on my ???? on the mattress looking up at a large double poled street sign. I had tried to walk between them, but the mattress was too wide. I daren’t look over at the passing traffic.

White Bay Pub


Further along was the White Bay Hotel. Built 1915, and early opener. A Wharfies pub. A rough pub. I didn’t know it at the time but it had been closed for a few years, thankfully. None the less I wasn’t prepared to stop in front of it. The patrons will have to be content in watching a mattress walk past the windows and put it down to one of life’s little mysteries or a symptom of too much drink. The pub might have been closed but the bus stop next to it wasn’t. I saw it just in time and managed to stop before running into it; scaring the baby cheeses out of the people waiting inside. It was a good time for another rest, I’d gotten past the pub, it had been uphill and the sudden stop had threatened to make us fall again. I let the mattress dismount against a chain wire fence and l leaned against it. My arms, shoulders, back, neck and legs were on fire! I was sweating like a pig and breathing heavily when a bus stop person looked round in his seat at me, got up and came over. As the old, age wearied, man approached I was thinking of how to explain what I was doing with a double bed mattress miles from the nearest house or flat or bedding shop, or car parking spot.

“Excuse me, can you tell me the time?”

Exhausted and almost unable to speak I raised my wrist and told him; he thanked me and returned to his seat. I wonder even today what he though of what he saw. See ‘D’ on the photo.

I am nearly half way there. I am at the top of the rise. If I keep going it’ll be just around the corner and down hill to my car. I can see the White Bay Power Station from here.

The corner has a set of traffic lights on it but as I get there I am out of puff again and so lean the mattress up against the fence as before. Gathering my strength I raise my eyes to a car stopped at the lights. I think it was just coincidence, or it might have been the sound of laughter that somehow made its way to me over the traffic noise.

But it was probably the cruel hand of fate.

In the car staring and laughing at me was Cathy, a senior lecturer from the Design & Architecture School at the University of Technology, Sydney. We went through 4 years of an Arts degree (design) together. Worse still, I’d seen her only the afternoon before. She had asked me to critique one of her student’s major works at the Uni. I’d gone in all dressed as a designer should, listened to a presentation, gave constructive criticism and later answered the marking panel’s questions about the work. I was an industry expert. Now I looked like a grubby, sweaty, homeless man carrying a mattress through the streets of industrial Balmain. As our eye’s met I saw her face change as she recognised me.

The moment was short lived because the lights changed just then, the car pulled away, but she continued to stare at me with redoubled laughter and pointing through the rear window. To this day that’s the lasting image I have of her. She’s never called me into the Uni again. See ‘E’ on the photo.

I made it to the car without further incident. See ‘F’ on the photo. On the way an idea of desperation came to me. If I could just bend the mattress enough I could pop it into the cargo bay of my station wagon and forego a repeat of the flying mattress. I had parked near a smash repair shop, popped in and grabbed some help. The two of us managed to fold it enough and slide it into the car in under 10 seconds. Apart from the strange looks and obvious curiosity the panel beater didn’t ask any questions. It had taken nearly an hour to carry the mattress to the car.

I made a point of travelling as slow as possible back across the ANZAC bridge. I suspect money changed back to the original hands once more.

I ended up keeping the mattress at home for several months just in case they sent me a fine in the mail. They never did.

Google Earth Shot (enter -33.8674350569 151.177735853 into find)


The White Bay Power Station (from other side) You can see the back of the pub on the left, the car was parked at the end of the fence on the right.


Skew ChiDAMN!!
20th Jan 2008, 01:05 AM

20th Jan 2008, 09:32 PM
P'ing m'self!

21st Jan 2008, 12:12 AM
I opened this thread and thought to myself what is all this writing that Wayfarer has written and thought to myself at 11.30pm I can't be bothered reading all this and scrolled down saw the pictures and the got to Alex's post saying P'ing myself and thought maybe it is worth reading.

Talk about crack up because I can really relate to this.

Back in about in 1977 on the old bridge I was coming home from a job in my one tonne Holden table top with a trailer on the back with a load of scaffolding in the trailer in the 6:00pm in winter peak hour traffic and the traffic comes to a sudden stop and the bloke traveling behind is not concentrating and runs up the back of my trailer.

The result is he hits it so hard it busts the tow hitch of the draw bar and buckles the back of the trailer so hard it rams the mudguards onto the wheels.

Of cause chaos ensues. Its not long before a tow truck turns up because he can't drive his car. Then the police turn up and they say you have to move the trailer. Yea how?

So I start reorganising the back of the one tonner and load all the scaffolding on it. So what to do with the trailer. I suggested to the copper how about tipping it over the bridge railing into the water. He wasn't having a bar of that. So what I did was organise half a dozen held up motorists and turn the trailer upside down and load it onto the roof rack of the one tonner. Lucky I always carried plenty of ropes.

Police charged the motorist and he paid me for the trailer and a new tow bar.

21st Jan 2008, 12:33 AM
Barry, sorry, I do tend to ramble a bit. But the things that "happen" to me... well, they give people a laugh which makes it all worth while. :D

Obviously you weren't hurt in your accident?

21st Jan 2008, 10:12 AM
Barry, sorry, I do tend to ramble a bit. But the things that "happen" to me... well, they give people a laugh which makes it all worth while. :D

Obviously you weren't hurt in your accident?

That was an excellent read and worth sitting up for and had me ROFLMAO.

No I wasn't hurt. The trailer absorbed all the impact. All I felt was a bump but was amazed the amount of damage he did.

tea lady
21st Jan 2008, 10:32 AM
:roflmao2:All that to save face in front of guys in monitor station? No need to visit the gym that week I guess.

21st Jan 2008, 10:38 AM
Brings back memories for me as well. Traffic authorities tend to get a bit tense when you break down at a toll booth on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and you get out of your car and pop the bonnet. Then there was the time my off-sider forgot to tie down the house lot of aluminium windows we were delivering. They made it from Pambula to the Merimbula bridge (about 5 km) before they fell off. I've certainly had my share of fun with mattresses too. I picked one up in my Ford hatchback once. The bright spark I bought it from suggested winding down the windows a bit and passing the rope through the car and up and over the mattress. OK genius, how do I get into the car now?

Great story, thanks for sharing :)