Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hospital Corners

As the chill of the winter solstice creeps into our homes, am I the only one who likes to gather up the blanket around my body for warmth? We all shift positions at night, and I know that as my limbs wander, I need my down-feathered companion to effortlessly move with me. So who, then, was the demented Nazi that invented hospital corners?

Surely the evil goddess Insomnia herself cursed us mortals with those tightly tucked in corners that pin us down for the count, relentlessly pressing down upon our toes. And just as clearly, she has charged her minions in Hotel Housekeeping to prosecute the nightly terror. Euphemistically deemed a “turn-down service”, their mission is to (i) maximize tension in the sheets just prior to bedtime; (ii) heap layers of heavy bedcovers upon the real estate designated for our feet—defying us to handle the germy, never-been-washed bedspread ourselves; and (iii) deposit tasty (but caffeinated!) chocolate on our nightstands to pharmaceutically reinforce wakefulness.

What else is there to do but squeeze into bed and try to kick the quilted bed-weight off with our feet, racing to find some mobility in there before the maids’ handiwork crushes our lungs? And then the hardest part: wedging my whole body down as far as I can go for maximum leverage so I can execute the leg press of my life to separate the top sheet from those damned hospital corners. It’s actually a good workout, though I often fear that my femurs will snap in the process. “Did you break your leg skiing?” they will ask, and I will answer, No, I was subdued by linen.

Can technology save us? I have developed an extensive road map around this investment hypothesis but I have yet to encounter any new technology powerful enough to overcome the hospital corner. Not even a web2.0 travel site that ranks hotels for Flexible Bedding.

No, like any terrible plague, hospital corners can only be remediated through prayer. So please join me in this bedtime hymn…

“Oh merciful and all-cheesy Flying Spaghetti Monster!
Tonight, on the longest night of the year, your noodly children
beseech you to deliver us from Insomnia’s paralyzing clutches.”

Amen, and good night.

Blogged with Flock


  1. Nice post. But as an ex-US Navy Medic I feel it is my duty to tell you those tightly tucked sheets were there to protect our drugged and damaged patients from falling out of the bed.

    Now we have bed rails.

    But tradition is... traditional!


    1. There is a fix, in 2012 I invented a bed sheet that leave out the corners for a conformable top bed sheet.

  2. Anonymous12:12 AM

    I love hospital corners. My dear bubbe taught me how to make a bed with them as a little boy. I still feel secure and cozy, not to mention warm with tight sheets and thick blankets.

    Nope, not even the all powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster can help you. You're a sick puppy...

  3. As a former West Point cadet well versed in the dark art of the perfect hospital corner, our solution was simple: never "break sheets" (i.e., actually sleep under the covers). That's right, probably 90% of cadets at the academies, during their four years there, never "broke" sheets and, instead, just sleep on top of their maniacally perfect bed sheets with a comforter.

    What does this mean for you? Pack a blanket.

  4. Even Seinfeld addressed this... perhaps its time for a "do not tuck" sign in addition to the "do not disturb" that is currently available!

  5. Nishi8:38 AM

    I like these posts of yours that talk about general stuff. Today, I read this article on CNN about Airborne and I remembered the blog post you wrote about Airborne long ago, basically saying the exact same thing!