It all started pretty innocuously; but let me first provide a little context:
I have severe lower back problems. I’ve had two discectomys for my lower back and I continue to have a good deal of pain. Sitting makes any back problem worse. So, I sent an e-mail to my office’s facilities manager asking for a chair with a seat that tilted back, so as to relieve the pressure off my spine. In fact, here’s the text of the e-mail (edited for brevity):
“My name is Chris. I work for Tom up in Prod. Marketing on the 4th. I was mentioning to one of my team members that my chair and my back (2 surgeries) don’t get along, and she indicated I should contact you to see if we have any alternate chairs.
I understand these are very nice chairs we have here (Leap), but what they don’t do, is angle the seat enough to take the stress off the spine. I only know this because I’ve suffered from back pain since I’ve been working in an office. Ideally, people with my back condition want a seat that tilts back much like a recliner seat. That puts all your torso weight on your back rather than pushing it down into your spine and buttocks.
I know, I know…Waaaay too much information right? Basically, I just wondered if you have any other chairs I might could test-drive for long-term comfort?”
Pretty basic right? Well yesterday, no fewer than 5 people–yep, count ’em–showed up at my cubicle. Three of the people were from some sales place and one of them was an ergonomics expert. They proceeded to criticize my whole work area, I’m sure in hopes of getting my company to purchase a bunch of stuff for me.
I work for arguably, the best known IT company in the world, and I’m sure the dollar signs were just floating across their eyes. I was finally able to convince them that I wasn’t looking for the world, just a comfortable chair, so they finally left me alone.
Well, I’m test driving this new chair here, it’s a HumanScale Freedom chair. It’s a very interesting chair, with nifty arm thingies that go up and down like the seats on equipment at the gym. It has a gel-covered seat for my bum, and when you lean back in it, the neck part keeps your head in one place so that it doesn’t screw with all the perfectly aligned ergonomics you (should have) set up with your monitor.
But here’s the kicker…the seat doesn’t tilt! The one feature I asked for is absent in this miracle of modern steel and chemistry. And come to find out, from one of my colleagues who used to work in that industry, this chair isn’t even as expensive as the one I was using, which was a very nice Steelcase Leap chair.
I’ve now sent another e-mail to facilities politely refusing the chair, accompanied with a picture of a chair that does specifically what I want it to do. I mean, I’ve already caused a row, I might as well see it through till the end and get what I want.
So part of me is flattered that my company cares this much, but mostly I’m just embarrassed.