I think it would be fair to say that in retirement, I dearly miss my colleagues. After working together for so many years, of course I miss our day-to-day interactions, working together to solve the problems of the universe. In doing so, we shared many memorable moments and even some funny times too that will be the source of many fun walks down memory lane in the future.
But there is another component of the office that also tugs at my heartstrings… I would like to introduce you to my beloved office chair.
It may be a sad sight but this chair has seen me through hundreds of work emergencies, interactions with clients, operational policy decisions, corporate reorganizations, and masterpieces of corporate writing. Through it all, it has been faithfully there, providing support and comfort through great times and challenging times.
I don’t know exactly how old it is, but when the pandemic forced us to work from home, it was indeed showing its age despite the fact that it fit me like a glove in all the right places. The last time I saw it, it looked worse than in the picture, as some of the stuffing was now escaping through the open fabric.
Nonetheless, this chair was like magic. If I ever had a twinge in my lower back, it acted like my own personal chiropractor. After sitting in it for 30-45 minutes, I would get up and hear a “clickity-click” in my back, and minor issues seemed to vanish.
For someone whose office was generally neat and tidy, the state of this chair stuck out like a sore thumb.
Back in the pre-Covid 19 days, passersby were known to stop, point and whisper. When they did, I just whispered to the chair, “It’s OK, people just don’t understand. You are great you just the way that you are!”
On several occasions, management had generously offered to swap it out for another one, but I politely declined their offer to replace it. The problem was that this specific model was discontinued and finding a substitute was no easy task.
Test driving new chairs can be a challenging prospect in itself. It’s a little like new shoes. A great chair might fit fine in the store, but it’s only after a few days or weeks of day-to-day use that an issue might reveal itself.
And when my back developed a new twinge (from an unsuccessful test drive), test driving a different chair was out of the question until the spine was rebalanced and the pain was gone.
For that reason, I didn’t want to stress out my back in the process, nor did I want to be a pain in the butt to others, by having chairs delivered and then picked up if they didn’t work out.
For a guy who is just a little on the short side and who has a recurring disc issue, I never thought that this “game of thrones” would be such a problem. Office chairs are not a one-size-fits-all deal.
Either the seats were too long for my short legs, which hit me behind the knees, leaving my feet dangling off the floor. Sometimes the lumbar support was in the wrong spot and sometimes, not adjustable. Or if the backrest was too curved, my back got irritated very quickly.
Even though many office chairs come with enough levers and buttons you’d think NASA was needed to assist with the simplest of adjustments, the issue was trying to find my way through the hundreds of combinations and permutations to find that “sweet spot” where the chair would fit perfectly.
After days or weeks of trial and error, just when I get a chair to fit just right, I might come back from a day off or a vacation to find that someone sat in my chair and played with the levers for their comfort. Don’t they know that it’s not polite to mess with the elderly like that!
When I changed work assignments (within the same organization) I made it a condition of employment that this chair would follow me, even if it meant personally driving it through the streets of downtown Ottawa from one building to another.
Sadly, the estimates we received for reupholstering Old Faithful came back rather pricey to the point that getting a new chair was likely the more cost effective option. Just the same, I dreaded the time-consuming test driving process.
Would you believe that at times when my back was mildly unhappy, my office chair was actually an incentive to go in to work (in pre-pandemic times)? It was THAT comfortable and that much of a perfect fit for me despite its less-than-ideal appearance.
About three years ago, I was attending a brainstorming session in a nearby boardroom where a set of new chairs surrounded the boardroom table. I was curious to try one out as I hadn’t seen this model before. The moment I sat in one of the chairs, it was like I heard the angels singing.
The chair fit my body perfectly, offering the right amount of support in all the right places. It was nothing short of miraculous.
Before the ink had time to dry on the meeting’s flip sheet paper, I was already launching an investigation on where the chairs came from and how I could get one.
Fortunately, I was allowed to borrow one to thoroughly test drive it. A few weeks later, I knew that this was “the one”, and management kindly allowed me to keep the boardroom chair. I was relieved as I didn’t have to go through the painstaking process of test driving chairs.
Even though I made a pretty seamless transition to the new chair, my beloved old office chair remained with me “just in case” my back flared up again… that is, until we were told to work from home due to the pandemic.
After many years of faithful service and support, for some reason I wasn’t able to truly let go of it, but the pandemic followed by retirement made it much easier.
I know it was just a chair, but when so many other chairs could irritate my back in a matter of minutes, it is easy to understand why I clung to this one for so long (despite its appearance).
Farewell my beloved office chair and thank you!
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,