It's not every day a homeless man gets to sleep on a cushy white mattress atop a firm box spring. And, when he does, there's a catch: It's sitting out of doors on Mission and Bosworth, and nearby employees arrange for a city wake-up call.
The incongruity of a man slumbering beneath a starry-skies-patterned blanket on a mattress and box springs on the sidewalk beneath the not-exactly starry skies is jarring, and your humble narrator stopped to inquire just as the police pulled up.
A trio of officers exited the cruiser. One lifted the blue blanket, revealing a pink-faced man blinking at the not-quite 9 a.m. sun. "Good morning," the officer said.
The supine man replied in kind, adding that he was deeply embarrassed he didn't wake up at an earlier hour. "I can't believe I slept in like this. I meant to be places."
"What's your name, brother?" asked another cop. "Dustin," replied the man.
The interaction was cordial. Wisps of conversation were audible over the Mission Street traffic: "Warrants? ... Misdemeanor ... Baseball bat in the park." The officers' radio crackled. Clearly Dustin was not Charlie Manson or any lesser personage necessary to trouble further. All they required of him was he gather his possessions and move along.
Dustin pulled on his boots and bundled the clothes and shoes that were sitting atop the mattress. He leaned a faded blue Schwinn on a laundromat wall and left the starry blanket atop a trash can. He propped the mattress and box spring next to his bike.
"You found the mattress there?" queried an officer. Dustin nodded. Left unsaid was that toting around a queen-sized bed is inconvenient for a man with a bicycle and little else.
"You have a great day, officers," he said, wheeling his bike down Mission. Clothes fell onto the ground. Asked where he'd go next, Dustin smiled and replied he wasn't sure.
He rubbed his jaw and said that sleep has been hard to come by, as he has a toothache. But then he smiled. "Those mattresses sure kicked ass, though."