A Blast From The Past -- Originally published Oct. 10, 2007
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Office Chairs And A Life Of Crime
We got a couple new chairs over here at the sports department a few weeks ago. It was about time.
I’d been complaining about my old chair for about three years. Sports editors at newspapers tend to do a lot of complaining, and I’m no exception. I have been blessed with advanced, God-given complaining skills, so why should I let one of my few talents go to waste? It would be a crime.
That’s the thing — my old chair was leading me into a life of crime. It caused me to venture down the dark path of law-breaking, and if my old chair would have had its way, I’d probably be armed, crazed and robbing a liquor store at this very moment.
I should note that there is some disagreement here regarding the new chairs. My managing editor, bless her heart, claims that she offered to get me a new chair several months ago, and I refused. I do not recall that conversation, but my managing editor is an honest person who would have no reason to lie in this case, so I have to believe her. I guess there must have been some kind of communication SNAFU involved. Perhaps I didn’t hear her correctly. Or perhaps there was a memo I didn’t read. Sports editors don’t like to read memos. We tend to scan them — looking to see if our names are in there somewhere — then toss them aside and forget them.
One other possibility is that this may have been a case of unrecognized sarcasm. For example:
Managing editor: “Hey James, would you like a new chair?”
Me (sarcastically): “No. I enjoy screaming in pain every time I sit down. An inflamed sciatic nerve really makes my day.”
Managing editor (not recognizing the sarcasm): “OK.”
See how that could happen?
Regardless, I’ve had back problems, circulation problems and — well — buttocks problems over the last three years, and all of those problems can be directly linked to my old chair.
Also, I’m awful grouchy in the mornings, I’m terribly shy and withdrawn among large groups of people, I have trouble balancing a checkbook and sometimes I yell obscenities at my television screen. Additionally, I can’t seem to get my lawn mower started and I can’t seem to stop the bathroom faucet from leaking. Oh, and I’m a lousy dancer.
I blame all these things on my old chair as well.
So I’d been complaining for three years about my evil ogre of a chair — until this past spring. This past spring, I noticed that the conference room across the hall from our sports area was resupplied with a set of about eight nice and brand spanking-new chairs. Upon further investigation, I concluded that these new chairs were both comfortable and fashionable. And they smelled good.
This got me to thinking. How often do those new chairs get used? Three hours a week? Maybe four? It’s not unusual for me to spend eight or more hours a day seated at my chair. How is this fair?
I began my life of crime. I stole one.
It actually wasn't really stealing, in the criminal sense of the word. I didn't take the chair home or anything. I didn't sell it on the black market, or abuse or assault it in any way.
I just took one of those sweet, young, innocent, beautiful, comfortable conference room chairs and rolled it over to my desk. Then I rolled my rude, foul-mouthed, loveless old desk chair into the conference room to take its place. For a fraction of a second, I thought I heard my old chair cursing at me after I abandoned it.
No one noticed my sin. It was too good to be true. I thought I was in Heaven. I had no idea work could be so enjoyable and relatively pain-free. Crime had paid.
And so it went, through the summer, until about a month ago. That’s when we hired a new sports writer, and on his first real full day of working I took one look at him and noticed how he was having a terrible time with his chair — a chair that was even more evil and mean-spirited than my old chair. This would not do.
So because I care so much for my co-workers, I naturally stole another conference room chair, just for him. I was getting brazen with my criminality.
I’d pushed my luck too far, though.
Within 24 hours, a co-worker from another department came up to me and asked me about our chairs here in the sports department. She was making every effort to be as kind and tactful as possible about it.
“Did you take those two chairs out of the conference room?” she asked, in a soft, non-confrontational voice.
In situations like this, it is always best to be as honest as possible.
“No,” I said. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. These chairs were always ours.”
So much for honesty. She went away, but I knew she didn’t believe me.
I was so busted.
The next day, I had to admit my wrongdoing and accept the wrath of my superiors. I did so as non-graciously as humanly possible.
The bad news was I had to go back to my old, ungrateful, unappreciative chair for a few days. The good news was new chairs were ordered on my behalf, and they arrived in a timely manner.
I love my new chair. It accepts me for who I am, and it never judges me. It treats me with respect, and it’s always there for me when I need it. I think I’ll keep it.
And in the future, I’ll try to avoid a life of crime. It’s definitely not one of my few talents.