I have no idea how this happens so often, but once again – I am amazed at how school-yardish work can be. When you look carefully, or think about it even briefly, we don’t change much socially from pre-school into adulthood. And proof in point?
I remember as early as elementary school swapping chairs when no one was paying attention, because I preferred blue to orange, maybe one of the metal disc thingies on the feet were missing and it wobbled, or possibly a much more prestigious (and larger) 5th grader-chair had been secretly installed here to impart a manner of favoritism for one special, alert child – who would obviously take possession of the chair by knowing it was meant for him or her. Some chairs had initials, or bad words like “fart-face” or “dummy” carelessly carved into them, leaving little scrolls of barbed plastic that ripped the tender skin under your knees or caught your new fall tights and made them holey. And then of course – there was the chair that everyone avoided but Snot-faced Stevie – who was constantly picking boogers and then conveniently had to adjust his seat. There were chair arguments. Chair fights even. And no one looked forward to coming back from the holiday vacation to realize they’d all been rearranged.
It’s my stinkin chair Billy, now get your nasty scuzmitts off it before I show you how I get my saddle shoes so shiney.
So a few years ago, back in Atlanta – I walk out of my hole (office) into the large room of 100 or so cubicles on the collection floor – to find about half of the employees snarling at each other, while a dozen of the managers are pushing around black leather chairs in a procession to rival any reverent funeral. They were doing their best to ignore the raucous of the inferiors, and gathered the chairs in the conference room. The black chairs, with much higher backs, and comfier cushion, were originally meant for managers only, but through time had filtered into the room, being given to “favorites” of the managers, who would steal one here and there when someone else left. To make a long story short – the chair-fight had escalated to the point that the owners of the company deemed it necessary to remove them all, and have no one chair be better than another.
I laughed hysterically. One lady – I believe in her late 50’s - had even written her name in white out on the arm of her chair, and refused to go back to her desk until it was returned to her.
This morning, in a far different setting, the chair-fight was relived. The doctors I work for have gone through a myriad of chairs, trying to decide which model they would be willing to sit on to best perform their duties. The guy in charge of buying them has had loaners from various furniture stores for months now, and with no indication on which the doc’s feel most at home in. He has asked over and over, politely, and more urgently – with the sales people hounding him for the return of their chairs – or payment in any case. With a hint of defiance, he finally sent the group an email threatening to remove every chair, without so much as a milk crate in replacement, if they do not decide today.
Needless to say, the black leather one won again.