In Praise of a Good Office Chair

Ok, I’m embarrassed to admit that I am on office chair #3 so far this year. That’s right, count them… three! I’m averaging one a month!

Now, my old one died after a good solid year of service. There’s no shame there. I had my little ceremony, dried my single tear and carried it to the curb for the garbage man to handle. Then I went on a shopping spree. It was the end of the year (this was in December) and I wanted to be sure I got the chair in on last year’s taxes. So off I went to Best Buy…

The one I selected was chosen for features, not fashion. It was called a “gamers” chair. It cost about a hundred bucks, and it felt delicious. Never mind that it was blue (one of my least favorite colors in the spectrum). It didn’t need to be pretty — it was affordable and it felt like heaven.

Two weeks after purchase, I left it in the “locked” position and tried to lean back. Only then did I discover that the cool features of this chair didn’t include much of a frame. The back was screwed directly to the seat base, which (it turns out) was constructed of an incredibly thin piece of fiber-board. There was NO frame.

Before this fiasco with a brand new chair, it would never have occurred to me to flip a chair over to be sure it was properly “framed” and strengthened first. I’d do that with a dining room chair, but I’d never considered that a desk chair designer could be that idiotic.

Once I recovered from the feeling like it was a sign from God that I really needed to get back on my wholesome, organic and low-calorie diet — IMMEDIATELY — I started thinking about other chairs.

As I’ve tried to reduce the footprint of my office, I thought that maybe I should reconsider the whole armless, task-chair concept. So I trotted off to Walmart and planned to buy something inexpensive and functional. After all, I’d just spent a hundred bucks on a chair that was now worthless, and I didn’t have much of a desire to spend a small fortune again.

I came home with an extremely affordable, ugly, but functional task chair. . .

Or so I thought. After two days, my butt was in full-fledged rebellion. I actually swapped it out for the classic metal folding chair I keep in the Airstream for people who visit. I found the metal chair to be more comfortable… for awhile. Then my legs started going numb and my circulation started getting worse and worse.

To make a long and exceedingly painful story short, I’ve decided that there’s alot to be said for a good chair.

Last night, I bought another $100 chair (this one was marked down 50% at Office Depot) that feels pretty darn good to my sore backside right about now. And what have I learned? My butt is worth saving. It’s worth pampering a bit, especially when I work such long hours. Most office chairs are rated for 0-3 or 3-5 hours of continual use.

I currently sit at my desk for 12-18 hours four days a week. I take one day off in the middle of the week and I now take off the weekend — but the last few times I’ve had the day “off” — I’ve still been sitting at my desk, working on my own site and playing with some organization and doing some personal research and ripping CDs to reduce my “stuff” overflow. So, I’m still spending many many hours on my butt every week.

Next chair I buy won’t be a “I gotta fix this now” purchase. The next one I buy will probably be too expensive to admit that I paid that much for a chair. I’ll not “cheap out” on an office chair ever again. I thought that traveling meant I’d have to give up on a nice desk chair and get something smaller or more portable. Now, I’ve changed my mind.

Whatever it takes, I’ll FIND the room for a decent desk chair. Period.