So recently J.C. and I were mattress shopping, as our old mattress was nearly 10 years old and we weren’t about to haul it to Colorado in its droopy, sagging state. We were, in fact, those last few weeks of sleeping on it, ready to volunteer it for ritual sacrifice, as it had hit the point where sleeping on the bathroom floor was looking better and better, and if we had been able to locate any mattress-sacrificing cults on such short notice, we would have gone through with it, by gum.
But that’s not the point of the story.
We went to a furniture store and met one of the mattress salesmen, who was totally awesome and so low-pressure I practically had to force him to sell us a bed. I’ll call him Neil. Because that’s his name.
And Neil, who has been in the mattress business for 19 years, was talking about how reviews and ratings on the internet has actually made it harder for consumers to buy a mattress. Basically, Neil’s Theory of Mattress Buying (which shall heretofore be known as NToMB) is that you should buy the mattress that feels good to you. After all, you are the one who is going to be spending a boatload of money on it (and may I just mention that we laid on one mattress set that retailed for $8700? Man, for that price it had better come with thousands of tiny masseuses who live inside the coils and rub your back all night long), and you are going to be sleeping on it every night, hopefully for a very long time.
So it doesn’t actually matter if mattress site X says that a certain brand or coil density or level of firmness is the best, or the best for your particular back problem, or your age or weight or bedtime predilections. What matters, according to NToMB, is that YOU feel it is the best mattress for you, and spending days Googling every possible mattress review is really only going to tell you what works for other people on a pretty personal topic, leaving you confused and second-guessing yourself for liking a mattress that isn’t supposed to feel good to you.
Neil takes NToMB very seriously. So seriously that he wouldn’t tell us what kind of mattress he had – not even the brand – until we had made our own decision, because he didn’t want us to be influenced just because he’s more knowledgeable about mattresses than we are. (Which wouldn’t be hard. I basically know one thing about mattresses: they are nicer to lie on than the bathroom floor.) And he was absolutely right to do so, because Neil likes his mattresses low and squishy, and J.C. and I like ours high and firm.
And that’s the problem with advice in general. What works for you is not necessarily going to work for other people. So they’ve slept on a low, squishy mattress for twenty years, and they can tell you all about how great they feel, but you are not them, and if it works out the same for you, that’s more dumb luck than anything else.
There have been times in my life when I’ve opened my mouth to give advice far more than I should have, and I hope I’ve gotten better at that. Nowadays I try very hard to say, “Here is what I would do,” or “Here is what I think,” rather than “Here is what you should do.” I’m not perfect at it, because it’s human nature to stick our noses into other people’s business, especially when you are born bossy, like I am.
Now that I’ve met Neil, I’m going to work harder at applying NToMB to life in general. Which may mean that if you ask me for advice about which job to take or what you should have for dinner, I’ll tell you to lie down for a while, but hopefully also means that I’ll be giving you the best advice of all – none.
What do you think? Are you ready to join the cult of NToMB, or do you think Neil should have sold me the $8700 mattress? Let me know in the comments!
*Bonus comment points if you caught the Bridget Jones reference in this post!