Inherently Unequal

My whole family is getting over being sick (here’s a story about that) and as I reflected on the experience I was thinking how nice it would have been to have the kinds of beds they had 150 years ago (pre-industrial age) where you would clean a mattress after someone threw up on it by emptying it, washing the cover, and then filling it with fresh stuffing. The old, soiled filler could be discarded or burned. Now we have mattresses that are “permanent” so when my daughter wakes up from her nap throwing up we have to clean all the covers and try to clean the mattress and then live with the fact that it’s never going to be entirely clean.

When we moved from temporary mattress filling to permanent mattresses we did not keep all the beneficial traits of the old mattresses. Perhaps someone should market a disposable sick-bed. Hospital beds have vinyl coverings so they can be wiped, disinfected, and covered with new sheets. Crib mattresses (at least the ones we have) are the same, but regular mattresses have lost that trait from the mattresses that our great-great-grandparents used to have.

I’m not suggesting that we should go back to those mattresses – though I was tempted to when the thought first struck me. I think we have many products to help mitigate that difference. However, the thought struck me that there is no such thing as a flawless upgrade when we start using new technology like that. There is always some characteristic that we might overlook which has its benefits. It’s something to think about as we rush onward with new technologies and find that it is easy to see their strengths. Sometimes we have to take a step back and see if we might have missed some strengths from the old technology.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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3 Responses to Inherently Unequal

  1. Jared says:

    Vinyl covers are cheap, and protect the mattress from all kinds of unwanted bodily fluids. As you say, crib mattresses (and therefore toddler mattresses) are already fluid proof. Vinyl covers also have allergy benefits.

  2. Jared says:

    … and, in the end, the cost of the vinyl mattress is probably comparable to the cost of creating a new bed. And many “permanent” mattresses need to be replaced every few years, anyway, because they start causing back damage after a few years.

  3. David says:

    That is exactly the type of product that I had in mind when I said that we have products on the market which mitigate the difference between modern mattresses and the mattresses they were made to replace.

    As for the cost and need of replacement, I was so disappointed by the durability of my first few mattresses after I got married that I ended up designing and building my own. It’s been working great for years now. Still, throw up on the bed creates a hassle.

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