The Moaning Pad

A Nutty Vignette

A group of us men and women worked steadily in the cavernous chill. We stood and shuffled around large, crated boxes of outdoor adventure travel products. These items were all returns, i.e. customers had purchased them from the retail company we worked with and for whatever reason returned them. We prepped them for a one-time clearance sale and marked down the prices with metallic silver ink pens. It was early in the morning close to the Winter Solstice. While it wasn’t freezing, we were in a large concrete cargo bay where it sure felt icy as Hell. Cold, dank, clammy, and gloomy, too. We kept ourselves warm by wearing layers of funky colorful clothes in all combinations borrowed from where they were heaped up in those crated boxes. I didn’t even check to see if I had on a woman’s or a man’s fleece jacket. One person pulled on a kooky mix of pants under two padded, insulated skirts and giggled. We quickly discovered a certain rhythm and worked hard. At the same time we entertained ourselves by reading the return tags to see what reasons people used to justify returning an item.

Most of them were mundane. Ordinary reasons such as a button popped off a $60 shirt, or a $300 tent “was too hard to open up,” or a sleeping bag “felt too cold,” or “too hot,” or “too stinky.” We giggled and chortled as we studied each item with terse, intense scrutiny before marking it down with our silver pens. I thought of my silver metallic ink pen as my “flying saucer pen,” my silver UFO pen. Oh, a shoe was too tight. Or a shoelace broke. Or a zipper got stuck. Or a pole was too long. Or bent. Or clothes the wrong color. Or the right color but the wrong size. Or the batteries died faster than they were “supposed to” die. Or the flashlight was, ahem, “too bright.” Or a strap broke. A stove didn’t “work fast enough” when they were “really hungry.”

All too often, however, the excuse to return something was a lame, “Used once over the weekend.” Ahh, cheaper than renting, huh? We just shook our heads.

“Oh my God!” one of my colleagues shouted. “Hey, check this out!”

She held out the yellow return tag from a sleeping pad as if she dared us to read it and believe. We read it and burst into hysterics.

“No way!” I blurted out and laughed.

A customer had purchased, used, and returned a cushy, self-inflating sleeping pad used for backpacking and camping. The person complained laying on the pad caused him, her, or it to “moan too much.”

“Made me moan too much.”

I imagined this person after a night or two trying to explain, “I’m returning this daggone sleeping pad! My back hurt. My hips throbbed. Made me moan all night long!”

“Made me moan too much.”

Or perhaps two or more hikers so excited by being outdoors amid the glorious majesty of Nature they got carried away atop yon sleeping pad. Perhaps they got carried away so much they disturbed neighboring campers trying to sleep next door. Maybe those neighbors finally got fed up with all that moanin’ goin’ on in the tent nearby and hollered at them to hush up before they stirred up a curious Sasquatch or two. I don’t know. But somebody was groanin’.

“Made me moan too much.”

Aye, maybe you’d like a used sleeping pad that’ll make ya “moan too much.” Hey, it’s cushy and cheap and marked down with a silver X!


William Dudley Bass
29 December 2015
Seattle, Washington


Copyright © 2015 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until Humanity establishes Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.




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