If I were a fairytale character I would definitely be the princess from ‘The Princess and the Pea’ by Hans Christian Andersen. This isn’t because I consider myself to be particularly princess-like but rather because of my borderline obsessive sleep-environment requirements. Those who have ever shared a room with me on the road will know what I’m talking about. My boyfriend Scott, who can irritatingly sleep anywhere at anytime, can certainly vouch for my scrupulous habits, albeit with an eye roll and an exasperated sigh.
If you recall, this classic fairytale tells the story of a young prince looking for a bride. He searches far and wide for a real princess but to no avail. On a dark and stormy night a girl arrives at the palace door claiming to be a real princess. The queen is skeptical and as such tests the young girl by placing a pea underneath her bed topped with a pile of twenty mattresses. In the morning upon waking up the queen asks the girl how she slept, to which she replies that the bed was terribly uncomfortable and that she was awake half the night. Her exclamation that there must have been something under the bed satisfies the queen that this girl is indeed a real princess and she and the prince are married and live happily ever after.
Strip away the whole prince-princess-happily-ever-after thing and basically you have the pea and me. I’m not sure exactly where it all started, as I don’t remember having any issues as a kid but suffice it to say I’ve developed quite a sensitivity to various sleep distractions over the last decade or so of traveling the world racing in circles.
When I started traveling to World Cups in Europe with the National team I found that the first thing I would do upon entering a hotel room was check the firmness of the mattress. Too soft would cause a wave of panic to rush over me. Too hard would have me sighing in disappointment. Just right was hard to come by. Come to think of it, maybe I’m more of a Princess-meets-Goldilocks kind of hybrid.
Other habits I’ve developed include making the room as dark as possible (and wearing an eye mask if it is still too bright), seeking out the best, most comfortable earplugs and always un-tucking the sheets and blankets from their tightly tucked position. Getting a room that has been smoked in is an automatic request to move.
Perhaps this all stems from a few unfortunate experiences in less than desirable locales. We once stayed at a hostel in Fernie that had us peel back the pilled and threadbare sheets to discover many strands of other people’s hair. A couple of years ago in Moscow we stayed in a room (read: shoebox) where the beds were covered in faux zebra fur comforters that had seen better days and I could honestly feel the slats of the bed through the coils in the mattress. Hmm, maybe I’m starting to sound like a bit of a princess after all…
At a World Cup last year in Hamar, Norway I was rooming with my teammate Clara Hughes. The beds at that hotel were like squishy hammocks and we both had to make alterations to accommodate our finicky skeletal systems. Clara opted to put the soft 3-inch topper on the floor every night and slept on that while I did away with the topper altogether and slept instead on the reasonably padded box spring underneath. I take some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one with such tendencies. Our therapists also appreciate it as it makes less work for them in ironing out all the spine kinks.
You may think that I am a bit neurotic (and princess-like) about the whole sleep/bed thing. I prefer to think of it as pleasantly particular. But somehow, when it comes to performing at the highest level in my chosen sport, this girl needs her sleep and it’s gotta be good. Sharing rooms in noisy hotels for over ten years has lent itself to the emergence of my alter ego: the Princess and the pea.
And yet, it doesn’t stop there! Initially it was just the matter of comfort, quiet and dark. But then a few years ago I happened upon a newspaper article about how conventional mattresses are drenched in carcinogenic and toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and flame-retardants that can off-gas volatile organic compounds into the night air you breathe for years. This is actually required by law! The use of such chemicals has long been banned in Europe, but in North America it is still the norm.
Oh the horror! Slow death by chemical-drenched mattress! Lying in bed, suffocating in my imagination, I thought I might be able to do something about it. Much to my delight the google search that ensued led me to discover a small family-run business located right in my hometown of Ottawa specializing in the production of organic mattresses and bedding: Obasan. Using beautiful organic cotton and wool and natural latex rubber sourced directly from farmers all over the world, the folks at Obasan produce some of the most wonderfully comfortable and naturally pure mattresses on the planet.
After a bit of pursuing and a little wooing Obasan agreed to sponsor me and subsequently outfit me with one of their superb natural latex mattresses and all the fixings to go with it. They even sent me a mattress for my apartment in Richmond so I could remain extraordinarily comfortable there as well.
After weeks on the road sleeping in a myriad of too hard and too soft beds, it is absolute bliss to return home to my incredible bed. There are most definitely no peas under my mattress and I sleep nothing like a princess. I’m not really sure what that makes me, other than possibly slightly off my rocker.
p.s. This wonderful company is currently looking for a new sales associate. Please see details below if you are interested! Or pass the info on to someone you think might enjoy working at Obasan.
POSITION TITLE: SLEEP SOLUTIONS CONSULTANT/ MATTRESS SALES
Sleeptek/Obasan is looking for a Sleep Solutions Consultant at our Ottawa location. Reporting to the Director of Sales, you will ensure efficient use of company resources by full training and mentoring of the Obasan line, to provide sleep solutions to clients.
For 25 years, Sleeptek/Obasan has been supplying their clients with a high quality range of custom bedding products. Our business is now in need of a Sleep Solutions Consultant to uncover client’s needs and provide them with sleeping solutions. The successful applicant will be responsible for responding to clients via telephone and email in a timely manner. The applicant will work over the telephone with clients and engage in pro-active business development strategies. In the position of Sleep Solutions Consultant you should have good-natured personal qualities. The applicant may be required to work on Saturdays.
Qualifications: Energetic, Great Communicator, Good writing skills, Organized, Honest, Great attitude with people, Punctual, Dependable, Consistent, Work ethics, Works well under pressure, Shows initiative, Creativity, Resourceful, Good work relations with staff and management. Must have telephone sales experience. Must know Microsoft office (Excel, Work, Email, Internet) and Bilingual.
What You Should Expect:
- A growing organization with a fast-paced atmosphere.
- An organization that believes in quality product and service.
- Competitive compensation and benefits package.
- Full training and mentoring to provide sleep solutions.
- Genuine sense of appreciation by the team.
SALARY: Base salary plus commission.
CONTACT: Jonathan Laplante
HOW TO APPLY: Please e-mail your resume to: email@example.com
September 14, 2010 at 4:07 PM
First off, thank you for representing Canada, and Ottawa so well.
As a fellow Ottawan, I’ve been researching (if there is such a thing) mattresses. I came across Obasan and subsequently your support (pun not intended) for this product.
I will be visiting the showroom on Colonnade this week and was curious in which model you prefer ?
Good luck in the up coming season.
September 17, 2010 at 12:33 PM
Thanks for stopping by! We have one of Obasan’s natural rubber latex mattresses in firm. I don’t recall the exact model we have and I believe they have updated their current catalogue. I’m sure if you went in they will be able to help you find what you’re looking for.
I hope it works out!