The Bagginses, Mike and Chrissy had two problems to contend with, both of the them urgent but one a good deal more significant than the other.
Their friend (and Mike's part-time employer) Saul Goldberg, was in hospital about to undergo an operation on his brain. Saul was in his 80s, and had seemed perfectly healthy previous to his hospitalization for a brain complaint. Now though, in the hospital he was clearly seriously ill and at his age unlikely to bounce back easily. Worse, Saul's wife Gena was ill herself and couldn't stay with him all day in the hospital. So he was being looked after by his former wife Sherry and all the guys who worked for him. Saul ran a rare book store in the North Station area of Boston and as he treated his employees well, they were eager to do what they could for him during his illness.
Their other problem was that they desperately needed to buy a new mattress. Their current mattress was causing Mike back pain and he'd taken to sleeping on a sofa instead. While the Bagginses considered themselves savvy and adaptable they'd never had to buy a mattress before and as such were alarmed by the number of things they'd never considered.
Firstly, mattresses are expensive. You can't just get one for $50. Plenty of mattress companies offer *financing.*
Secondly, you can't just buy one online the way you would a computer or a book or a TV. Even if you plan to buy one online, you have to go and try the models out first. No one loses (much) sleep over buying the wrong computer online but buying the wrong mattress could be disastrous.
So when Chrissy called Mike at 3:00 PM on a Thursday, she was asking him if they would be mattress shopping or visiting the hospital that evening.
*names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty