Your memory foam seat cushion won’t help you forget the pain
By Mark Rutledge
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Some people can get away with sitting all day, every day. I wish I’d realized sooner that I’m not one of those people. Nearly 30 years of newspaper work nearly ruined my lower back — not to mention my backside.
A comfortable desk chair can turn you into the proverbial frog in a pot — slow to know you’re being cooked.
It seems that I was destined for a desk job. My earliest concepts of working for a living were shaped by a desk chair and all of the fascinating office supplies around it. We lived in a parsonage, and my dad’s office in the church next door was my personal playground.
There was a big wooden desk chair that rocked, rolled and swiveled and probably would have crippled my father’s back. But he was never one to sit still for long. He called his office a “study.” All of the tools for clerical work were there, but Dad spent the majority of his workday visiting the sick, the shut-ins and coffee shops.
I labored many hours alone in his study doing the important work of assembling paperclip chains, testing the pop-up Rolodex, tangling and detangling the thin metal bars that held the manual typewriter’s typeface, and setting new personal records for chair rotations.
I had such a blast behind my Dad’s desk that when I moved into my first newspaper office I wanted a chair just like his. Ask and the antique stores will provide.
Even at that relatively youthful stage I learned quickly that a hard wooden chair is no place for a grown man with minimal gluteus in his maximus. It helped that I was a beat reporter in those days, spending most of my time outside the office.
After landing an editor position I came to understand that there is no comfortable position for an editor. And the most uncomfortable position at a newspaper, by far, is that of a copy editor.
Imagine being chained to a chair for hours on end fitting miles of words neatly onto pages and searching endlessly for ways to keep the executive editor’s phone from ringing.
I’m convinced that copy editing is the most back-breaking and butt-aching job on the planet.
During my years of copy desk captivity, I suffered all manner of unmentionable ailments often associated with truck drivers. I would shift from side to side, lean forward, lean back, sit on one leg and then the other — the entire time thinking about misplaced commas and how good it would feel to spot them from a standing position.
So I invented the concept of a standing desk. If I’d filed a patent, I wouldn’t need a standing desk.
At the community college where I work now, I recently noticed my invention popping up, quite literally, on other people’s desks. It is the very apparatus I envisioned would allow one, with the push of a button, to raise or lower his or her workspace, thereby increasing blood flow to otherwise compressed, depressed and oppressed areas of the body.
Hallelujah and pass the extension cord!
And not a moment too soon. My memory foam seat cushion has developed a severe case of amnesia.
Contact Mark Rutledge at email@example.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.