A few weeks ago, I received a survey at work, asking me if I'm ergonomically fit. Except apparently here in the UK they don't use the buzzword 'ergonomics' - instead they have a catchy acronym: 'DSE' - Display Screen Equipment. Which is not only about your actual Display Screen, but includes your keyboard and desk and various other ergonomic-ish things.
I dutifully returned mine completed, marking everything as 'fine' or 'brilliant' or whatever the British-ism was on the selection box. Except at the end I noted that I tended to get uncomfortable after sitting in my chair for a couple of hours, and would it be possible to try a different one?
Time passes. Suddenly yesterday I was visited by the Health & Safety officer, the Facilities manager and the woman in charge of collecting the survey papers, wanting to talk about my chair. Yes, I sit in it a lot. Yes, I've tried an alternative chair - it's not this chair in particular, apparently, it's something about the model, as I routinely sit in other chairs (including my home office chair which is an antique non-padded wooden office chair) without discomfort.
Then comes the part where our Health & Safety officer, a sweet young lady of maybe 30, asks me if it's my lower or upper back which hurts.
Her: Well, if you adjust - wait, neither?
Me: Nope. My back is fine. It's my tailbone that hurts.
This caused her to blush bright red and stammer something unintelligible about cushions as she hastily backed out of my office. Later on that day, she came by my office again to tell me she had arranged an appointment to see the Onsite Occupational Safety Nurse about 'your area of discomfort' which, she said, she had generally but not specifically described. She said all of this while staring at a spot on the wall behind and to the right of my head, before beating a hasty retreat again.
So today, I had to go visit the nurse
Nurse: So, I understand your back is hurting you? Are you using good posture?
Me: Well, I try, but it's not my back.
Nurse: But I was told your back was hurting you.
Me: My back is fine. It's my tailbone
Nurse: Your tailbone?
Me: Yes. My coccyx (thinking I'd impress her with my technical knowledge)
Nurse: Show me.
Turns out, she was. So I turned around and showed her. Fortunately, she settled for me just pointing at it through my trousers. No NHS flashbacks for me today. We ended up filling out two additional forms and she called 3 other people to talk about what chairs were available. Apparently (and I can only wish I was making this up), at this particular office where I work, we've outsourced chair maintenance. Which means for any chair problems, we have to call an off-site help desk where the issue is logged. This issue is handed off to a chair technician who determines whether a chair-side visit is necessary, or if he can walk you through chair-administration by phone. If a chair-side visit is required, one will be scheduled within 4-6 weeks.
I think I preferred it when companies didn't care so much about my health.