The chairs at work are, of course, ancient and ghastly and horrendously uncomfortable. It was only after six months of agony that one of my colleagues remembered the "Vulcan" chair. Vulcan was his real name, a Turkish bloke who had once worked in the library before returning to Turkey with his family. He'd had back problems too and a special chair had been bought for him. It was bloody brilliant, that chair - I was comfortable from the first moment I sat in it. I was quite happy to remain in the Vulcan chair for the rest of my prison sentence.
Sorry, I mean, work life.
However, a new young bloke was then hired for the afternoon shift. Also tall, he preferred the Vulcan chair as well and an all-out battle has ensued. As his shift starts at 1.30, halfway through my lunch hour, he will invariably be sitting in the chair when I come back from lunch. Feeling mean and guilty, I would have to ask for the chair, feeling that it was somehow my fault that he had to sit in one of the crap chairs. The fact that he is 30 years younger than I am and has never had a day's back pain makes no difference - I am the one in the wrong.
I raised this issue at a staff meeting and my manager got so irritated with me that she has barely spoken to me since. The fact that she sits in an extremely fancy chair, the sort you might expect to see on the bridge of a spaceship, isn't lost on me. However, the issue desk manager was far more interested in my plight and set about the long process of getting me a new chair. This has involved several million emails and an appointment with Occupational Health, an event
made excruciating by the fact that the interviewer was being examined and she kept looking at the examiner instead of me. Hello. I'm the person getting a sore neck because you've placed my chair at a right angle to your desk. Honestly, the shit you go through just to get a chair.
Anyway, this is how I've ended up in a Chair Lab testing chairs. I didn't even know we had a chair lab. It seems to be used primarly by disabled students who have access to better equipment in the lab than anywhere else. When I say" lab" I don't mean bright, white, shiny and clean. No windows, stuffy and hot, chairs higgledy-piggledy all over the place. Screens at odd angles. No eating because of mice. So less of the "lab" than just "basement room."
Today I'm spending an hour sitting on each chair I've chosen (I managed to narrow it down to three) in order to decide - and I have to get it right because this is money being spent On Me. The best one has a rocking action which means I can get up quickly (there's a lot of bouncing up and down at work, fetching stuff and helping people etc) but it doesn't have great upper back support. The one with the best upper back support kind of "hugs" you but it also forces your elbows forward slightly. Not comfy. And the third option doesn't do anything discernible except be a chair.
In the end, I'd be happy to stay in the Vulcan chair. None of this would be happening if it wasn't for the fact that the manager is all over the new young guy at work, simply because he is young and a guy. She doesn't like women unless they fawn at her feet. As I don't, I've been rendered invisible. Why can't I get another chair like the Vulcan one? Because that option wasn't available. And besides, I was supposed to be getting a new chair because the Vulcan chair isn't good enough. I've actually gone through this whole rigmarole so that a squit of 23 can stop sighing heavily whenever he has to give up The Best Chair.
Hey, you know what, I've just realised - for about the hundred millionth time - that I really fucking hate my job. I mean, it was inevitable. I was always doomed to hate everything that wasn't staying at home and being a writer, which is what I like doing best (even if it doesn't pay). It goes without saying that my chair at home. Is. Bliss.