Well, guys, I just watched a 3 minute and 27 second video about an office chair. Watched it beginning to end, fully engrossed, didn’t even think about fast-forwarding.
I was particularly interested in seeing what they had to say about arm adjustment and lumbar support. Alas, no one spoke in the video, there was just a woman wearing slacks showcasing the different functions of the seat.
As she sat and adjusted, they had overlaid the video with helpful red arrows underscoring the angles and movements of the chair so you could really appreciate all that it could do. In the meantime, there was “do-wee-do-wee-do” elevator music playing as a soundtrack, music I subconsciously realized I was tapping my fingers to while watching.
All of it, I realize, instantly catapulted me into the realm of the Officially Old, which, as I stretched my arm over my head Jane Fonda-style, I was completely fine with.
Remember your first office chair? I do. It went by “Wobbly” and had a seat cushion that was the exact shade they used to paint hospitals with. Interestingly enough, I was actually working in a hospital-turned-government building at the time, a renovation that, you can imagine, was only marginally successful. Walk in the hallways and there were still glass, circular doors built into the walls, which, yes, led to the (surely haunted by now) laundry chutes.
I was there for was a data entry job that my mom had gotten me. At the time, all fourth-grade children in Winnipeg were receiving the Hep-B vaccine, which involved public health nurses going to the schools and administering the jabs. All of this required a meaty amount of paperwork and it was my job to input it into a D0S computer system.
I was happy to have the summer job because it paid a whopping $12 an hour for nearly zero amount of skill. I quickly realized they paid that much simply to get you to overlook the severe boredom that sets in when your job is to input data.
All of this boredom quickly had me hyperaware of my surroundings. Of the three women who worked full-time in that strange space. Of the macramé that held their plants. Of the fact that the room always smelled of ripe banana (and ghosts). And, of course, of my chair.
At the time, though both wobbly and squeaky, I considered it a huge step up from what I was used to. Up until then, I’d only ever sat in the type of desk chair that was actually attached to the desk, the desk being in a classroom. In comparison, this chair was veritably cush in that it, I mean, it actually had a cushion to sit on. And its height could be adjusted via a magic lever, which I used on a nearly hourly basis.
While the job was boring, I was firmly aware that it was a sign I had reached adulthood. For one, I worked around adults. And for two, I had a desk and chair that was considered, albeit temporarily, mine.
After that first chair, I had many others. There was the giant black leather one I inherited after the graphic designer Bill got a new one at Fanfare Magazine Group. I felt pretty pleased with that one — I mean, hello, leather, how posh was I — until I realized that the “leather” had a tendency of, umm, flaking off and sticking to my clothes.
There was the very glidey one I had when I worked as a secretary for Gerry Doak, the lawyer who occasionally would take me with him to court and, along the way, ask me to throw out the many, many McDonald’s bags that had collected on the floor of his passenger seat.
And there were the various chairs I had while working at The Sentinel, which, I firmly believe, were all constructed in 1952 with stern 1952 values.
Along the way, no matter the chair, I was always comfortable. Could sit for hours without a second thought. Never an ache, never a numb finger, never a shoulder tweak. In fact, the only time I would feel stress was if I leaned back too far and had to worry about tipping over.
Even in the 10 years I’ve worked from home, I’ll tell you, I have never had a special work chair. I’d cart my laptop around and just write wherever I landed. At the dining room table, in the kitchen, on the couch in the basement. For the year our dog Fitz was sick, I worked almost exclusively in bed.
But today? Oh no. It’s been brought to my attention that I not only need a special chair, I need a special height for my keyboard. Otherwise, my fingers go to sleep. Otherwise, I have to twist my arm around like I’m gearing up for a windmill softball pitch so I can try to ease up my shoulder.
Which brings me back to the 3 minute and 27 second video I just watched. It’s fascinating to me how, if you get into enough of a bind, you can get excited about any purchase, no matter how humdrum. Because I’m there. I’m invested. In fact, I’m just about to watch another video.