Listening Post: the ergonomic urge

I might consider a standing desk if it was built into a Segway. Photo: Juan-Tomas Garcia, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

I might consider a standing desk if it was built into a Segway. Photo: Juan-Tomas Garcia, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Distracted by the relentless good weather and spectacular foliage, I was casting about for topic suggestions for my weekly essay, having not a thought in my head. Sunshine makes me a little sleepy. Sarah Harris, who has recently moved from the Champlain Valley to work here at the epicenter of NCPR, suggested I write about ergonomics–specifically– about her new standing desk which she maintains makes her more productive and energetic. I suggest that it is the generation difference in our respective ages that makes her more productive and energetic, but I could be wrong.

I have been an old-school desk worker, fulfilling–through longevity, seniority, and a little whining–my workplace ambitions of having actual windows and a wraparound work station made of tempered glass and brushed steel, one commodious enough to hold twin monitors, months worth of random unfiled documents, a supply of snack food, and a couple dirty dishes.

My chair of choice is wheeled, armed, high-backed, fleecy, and shaped exactly like my butt. I do much of my best thinking slumped in it, assuming a posture visually indistinguishable from unconsciousness. No doubt I will pay a price someday for my excess of relaxation and for premeditated offenses against my spinal column. But my feet worked overtime for many years before the computer came upon the scene, and they are enjoying semi-retirement.

My wife Terry has cleverly used ergonomics to seize back control her desk, which I used to hog because I liked her iMac better than the old brick of a laptop that has been my cross to bear outside the office. She swapped out her perfectly comfortable office chair for one of those beach ball chairs–reported to be good for “strengthening your core,” whatever that is. All I know is that I can only sit in it for a minute or two before being overwhelmed by the urge to get back up–maybe raid the kitchen for another handful of potato chips.

I’m not entirely immune to healthful impulses, but whenever the ergonomic urge overcomes me, my impulse is to resist.


2 Comments on “Listening Post: the ergonomic urge”

  1. I enjoyed this one, Dale. My “standing desk” is within view, currently holding a couple of matted photo prints on a small table-top easel. I write this from my ancient, ergonomically-challenging, oak office desk (with chair that is also a business cast-off).

    Your up-standing colleague is right in her choice, as she will be many years from now when she moves to the arrangement you and I have because her spine and feet tell her they’re worn out and she should try a good old fashioned desk and chair.

    Luckily, in our younger working days, the computer and its requisite “desk” hadn’t arrived, because neither had knowledge of ergonomics.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    Standing at the bar to drink is okay. Standing to work or eat is not on my agenda.
    Next thing you know someone will be suggesting driving your car while standing up and walking on a treadmill and maybe writing a novel on your smart phone.

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