The Story You Are About to Read is True

By Gordon Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding

Those old time TV cops would have made great salespeople, because asking the right questions can help you solve the mystery of finding the right mattress for your shopper.

Fans of 1960s cop shows may remember Dragnet, the quirky and fast-paced police drama in which Det. Joe Friday solved every crime in 30 minutes. If Dragnet was about a store selling mattresses, it would have gone like this:

This is our city, a large metropolitan area. There are factories, stores, schools, businesses and restaurants. There are lots of people that work there. They drive to work, do their job, drive home, and at the end of the day go to bed. Sometimes they are uncomfortable and can’t sleep at night. That’s when I go to work. My name is Monday and I carry a pen.

I was working the day watch out of the mattress department. It’s a typical showroom with 30-plus models.  The time was 11:15 a.m. A female customer stepped into the department. She identified herself as Helen Backman.

Joe Monday: Welcome to our Better Sleep Center. My name is Joe Monday.

Helen Backman: Mr. Wednesday, you have to help me, I simply can’t sleep at night.

Monday: The name’s Monday. What seems to be the trouble?

Backman: It’s just awful! I go to bed right at 11 p.m., Mr. Sunday. I’m comfortable for a while, but then I toss and turn. The sheets get all tangled, and I am up half the night.

Monday: I understand. Let’s start from the beginning. You say you go to bed at 11. Do you turn out the lights right at that time?

Backman: Why yes, Mr. Tuesday. I said that. Of course, I watch the news on TV in bed, and sometime the Late Late Show.  They had a Kojak movie on last night.

Monday: I see. And when how old is your current bed?

Backman: I don’t see what that has to do with it, Mr. Holiday. Is that what you people do, just hassle customers with a lot of questions? I just want better sleep.

Monday (looking stern): We ask questions for a reason, ma’am. There is a lot of good sleep at stake. And without it you are performing below your best. Just getting six hours of sleep instead of eight hours means you’re functioning like you have an .08 percent blood-alcohol level. And that’s legally drunk in this state.

Backman: Do you think I’m drunk? I never touch the stuff! Sure, a little sherry before bed. And wine with my book club at noon. But…

Monday: Now I’m going to ask the questions, and you’re going to answer them. Just the facts, ma’am, I just want the facts. When you wake up, what part of your body hurts?

Backman: Mostly my hip and shoulder. They get a little tingly too, Mr. Thursday.

Monday: Oh, so you sleep on your side, do you?

Backman: Yes, how did you know?

Monday: It’s my job to know. Now how old did you say your mattress is?

Backman: I’m not sure, I remember we bought it with some money my husband won when that L.A. baseball team surprised everyone and won the World Series.

Monday: OK, so you’ve had it since 2002 when the Angels won.

Backman: No, it wasn’t the Angels. Isn’t there another team in L.A.?

Monday: There’s the Dodgers, but they haven’t won since… 1988.

Backman: Yes, that’s it, they had that cute chubby manager, Tommy something. But the mattress is just like new!

Monday: Just a couple more questions, ma’am. You and your husband share the bed; what size mattress do you want? And when you can sleep, do you spend more time under the covers or on top of the covers?

Backman: My Wally insists that we have a king-size bed. You know, he thinks he’s king of the house. [Giggles slightly.] And the covers, I start out nice and snuggly underneath, but I toss them onto Wally about an hour later. He always complains about that.  But that’s my payback for his endless snoring; he’s like a buzz saw.

Monday: Yes, Mrs. Backman. It’s an open and shut case. From what you’ve told me, your mattress is past its comfort life. It may look new, but for proper support and comfort you need to replace your mattress every seven to eight years. You sleep on your side — and need a little deeper comfort level on top to cushion your hips and shoulder. You’ll need a plush model.

You said you toss off the covers — that indicates that you sleep warm or hot at night. Your mattress needs to have cooling foam with gel or carbon memory foam to allow better temperature regulation. Not too hot, not too cold.

Mr. Backman’s snoring is disruptive to you, but also indicates that he is not breathing properly at night. Snoring is like gasping for air. You will want to get an adjustable bed to slightly raise his head and neck. He’ll breathe easier and you’ll sleep better.

Backman: Do you really think we need that base, Mr. Payday? It won’t help me.

Monday: You said you have a TV in the bedroom. We don’t recommend watching TV immediately before bedtime, and watching the news can get you wound up and make it hard to relax. And Kojak? Really? Those cop shows are such drivel. But you can set your adjustable bed into a TV-watching position, just like a giant recliner, with no more pillow stacking to get comfortable.

Backman: That makes sense.

Monday: OK, let me show you a mattress set that will help you get the rest you need. By the way, do you have a five-sided or six-sided mattress protector at home?

Backman: Mattress protector? What’s that??


On May 28, 2020, a mattress purchase was made at a local store, in and for the benefit of the shopper. The result of that purchase was endless nights of restful sleep and a customer converted into a raving fan.

The Backmans were sentenced to marriage, with no time off for good behavior.

Gordon Hecht is Senior Regional Manager/Strategic Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding. You can reach him at