Friday, March 5, 2010

Ergonomic

As many of you may know, I work late. A lot. Many times while working late, I'm hunched over one or more laptops. Literally hunched over, leading to back pains and eye strains. Now, as fewer of you may know, I have various things medically wrong with/questionable about me:
  • very weak gag reflex- I've thrown up on multiple occasions from cold air and will gag when tired, chewing the same piece of gum for too long, smelling bad smells, standing in front of a fan or in windy situations, taking shots, smelling shots, thinking about bad smells, etcetera.
  • vulnerability to scarring and bruising- I can never be a hand or ear model because of a folding chair accident and ear piercing gone awry, respectively.
  • sporadic bouts of blood coughing- not Tubercolosis. The theory of one doctor was that I ruptured blood vessles in my lungs from over-exerting my lungs from activities like laughing too hard. (God's hint that I don't deserve laughter?)
  • scoliosis- They found it when I got a chest x-ray to check for Tuberculosis (see above). It's not the hunchback kind of scoliosis. It's the snake-ish kind. Either way, I think if I were a straight-spined person, I'd be my dream height of 5'5 and rap stars would be singing about my brown eyes (caramel complexion) and smile like the sunrise (body like heaven).
  • astigmatism- My eyeballs are "shaped like footballs" and no Lasik surgery will help me see significantly better.
And then there's the gaggle of psychological curiosities but that could be an entire entry so I won't even go into that. So the two maladies applicable to this story are last two on the bulleted list: scoliosis and astigmatism.

So I decided to ask Human Resources for a computer monitor as many people have them at my office and it would alleviate my eyes by having everything bigger and not make me lean in as much to see and thus relieve my back. I explained that I have a back cushion on my chair to help my back but it still hurts. I told them that I just got new glasses and my eyes aren't going to get any better. So they came to my cubicle to give me an ergonomic assessment.

It came down to two major things that were un-ergonomic about my workspace:
  • my chair: They took off the cushion that was intended to make the chair ergonomic because it wasn't working and came to the conclusion that I am "too small" for standard office chairs. Facilities brought a smaller chair in which I was also "too small" for. They didn't want to order me a special even smaller chair so just put the cushion back on the smaller one and gave me a footstool.
  • my keyboard/laptop placement: Being ergonomic looks stupid. I have a laptop stand and a keyboard that I plug in when I'm at my desk. To be ergonomic, you're supposed have your keyboard pretty much at the edge of your desk and your laptop directly behind it. It looks like all your technology is about to fall on you and feels very cramped. I told them that this wasn't a very efficient use of my space since I often deal with paperwork in conjunction with my computer work. Their solution was a document stand.
A document stand is as lame as it sounds. It's essentially a clipboard propped up at an angle. When Facilities brought it to me, I literally burst into tears from laughing so hard (luckily no blood coughing this time) from being so underwhelmed by it. My co-workers did some modifications and now I can say I have the computer monitor of my dreams.

So now my back and eyes still hurt but I get a good laugh every time I see my computer monitor/document stand. HR succeeded in making me a happier worker so no complaints here.

Side story that is slightly related: I called IT with a PowerPoint question and was told to "Google it." And Googling it solved my problem, saving me hours of work so I'm a happy worker all around!

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a disgruntled employee. I actually love work (a little too much). So co-workers, fret not. There is no need to be afraid of me coming in and shooting up the place.

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