Tuesday, November 02, 2004

But the chairs came back, they wouldn’t go away

The furniture situation in our lab was absolutely ludicrous. The furniture was not what you’d expect to find in a fancy university like ours. Just about all of it was leftover furniture gleaned from the building’s cast-off junk area, which was conveniently located just outside our lab. People dropped off old furniture there and our P.I. would go steal it instead of buying new furniture. This wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds, because the desks, for the most part, were perfectly fine. But the chairs, oh the chairs.

We had, as I have noted on a few occassions, very little space. There were nevertheless two to three chairs per lab member. Weaving your way from the lab entrance to the second microscope room (and you had to weave thanks to the crush of desks and lab benches) meant pushing extra chairs out way as you went. Most of our chairs were from the cast-off pile, and, just as a warning to you, people do not throw away good chairs. People may get rid of functioning desks, but if someone throws away a chair, it’s because it squeaks or tilts or is way too tall or is missing a wheel or something.

But we did have a few new ones that The P.I. bought from Staples or somewhere. But these chairs were the worst of the bunch. He must have gotten a deal on them, and I bet Staples was glad to be rid of them. These chairs were flimsy, armless, and small. Even when the seat was adjusted to the tallest setting, an average-sized person sitting in the chair would find his legs sloping upwards toward his knees. These chairs were practically child-sized.

One night, after tripping over several teeny black chairs on my way to my lab bench, I got fed up. There were more than enough chairs in the lab for everyone, we did not need these stupid tiny black chairs. So my fellow lab mate Grouchy Guy and I gathered them up and rolled them out to the cast-off furniture pile and left them. We went home that night, very pleased with ourselves.

The next morning the chairs were back.

It seems The P.I. found them in the cast-off pile and brought them right back into the lab. Over the next several days a silent war raged between The P.I. and those among us united against the tiny black chairs: me, Bitter Guy and Grouchy Guy. Every night we’d sneak a chair or two to the cast-off pile, and every day The P.I. would find them and roll them back into the lab. I couldn’t figure out his attachment to them. We weren’t asking for him to buy us new ones, we just wanted to get rid of the extras! No one ever sat in them. They were ridiculously small.

I can’t really remember how it ended, but I think I must have talked to The P.I. and made him realize that these chairs were truly awful, and completely unnecessary. Or maybe he just got tired of recollecting the chairs every night.

As a footnote to this story, The Doktah and I once obtained a selection of rather nice cast-off chairs from the campus administrative building. We had just finished a mandatory, life-sucking training on how to use the new campus-wide ordering system, and happened to mention to the trainer our P.I.’s system for providing chairs to his grad students. The trainer’s eyes widened in shock, and he said there was a roomful of unused chairs that we could rifle through if we liked. We liked, and we ended up with some sweet chairs that weren’t even broken! They even had cushioning! Well, mine squeaked, but the only thing wrong with The Doktah’s was it’s hideous orange color. Which was a minor thing, since no one cared how anything looked in our lab.

Or so you’d think. More on that in the next post, entitled “How Bitter Guy Got So Bitter” or “The Tale of the Too-Brown Desk.”

1 comment:

Doktah said...

The reason that we got the attention of the trainer mentioned by the below statement was that my chair up until I got the horrible orange chair had a permanent backward tilt of about 45 degrees. I felt like a low-rider everyway with my permanent tilt away from my desk. My anti-ergonomic chair also got in everyone's way... it couldn't be pushed under the desk because of the lean. At least it had cushons.

"The trainer’s eyes widened in shock, and he said there was a roomful of unused chairs that we could rifle through if we liked."