Hooked On Ergonomics

I can tell exactly how a person is feeling just by reading their facial expressions.

Back when I still worked downtown, I sat next to a British woman named Susan. Susan was four feet tall (and wide) and had a sporadic British accent and would say things like “I’m not being funny” even if nobody was laughing. She also had no eyebrows.

Her pasty skin and dyed black hair made this anomaly even more prominent.

Every five minutes she would come to my desk to complain about how unproductive the other employees were. Call it ennui-triggered delirium, but I couldn’t even look at her without imagining myself propping her up on a table at the Bingo hall, occasionally rubbing her hair for good luck.



“I’m not being funny,” she’d say.

The truth was I had no way of knowing if she was being funny. She didn’t have eyebrows.

She did, however, have a husband, a passive, obsequious man named Peter who apparently couldn’t even empty his bowels without Susan’s approval.

Susan: “Hello?…Yes, dear, it’s me. What time did you wake up? …I see….Did you eat all your breakfast? …And use the toilet? Number one or number two? …No, I’m not being funny….”

At first I assumed she was talking to a small child. A grandson, perhaps, or an inbred poodle.

It was only after eavesdropping on one particular conversation that I finally put two and two together.

“I’m not being funny,” she said, glaring at me as she held her hand over the mouth of the receiver.

One day I handed her a Sharpie and said it would make things easier for both of us if she drew in some facial expressions.

After that, we didn’t really talk much.

When Susan started complaining about carpal tunnel syndrome, the boss invited an ergonomics specialist come in to assess our working environment.

“I’d like you to meet Ron,” he said. “He’s going to be observing you at your work station.”

Because of my shiny hair and the fact that I was the only female in the office who wasn’t planning my upcoming retirement party, I knew he wanted to get with me.

I reached out my hand. “Nice to meet you, Ronathan,” I said, fluttering my long, mascara-clumped from the night before eyelashes.

“It’s just Ron,” he said.

“That’s what they all say,” I replied, tickling his palm with my finger.

He told me to go about my business like I normally would.

Because I didn’t want him tattling to my boss, I made my best impression. I (tried) not to use vulgar language while on personal calls. I waited until he was out of sight before clicking NSFW links. Every half hour I crawled under my desk to rest my weary eyes.

By 10:00am I was exhausted.

“Do you always sit like that?” he asked.

“Not always, I said, and I proceeded to show him my various sitting positions.


Talking with potential clients.




Reviewing financial reports with Xavier in Accounting.



Management meetings.



Answering my email.


“You have bad posture,” he said.

“You mean bad as in naughty?” I said, tossing my hair over my hunched shoulders.

“No, I mean bad as in incorrect. Do you suffer from lower back pain?”

“Even lower,” I said, grabbing his hand and placing it on my spine. “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

“Here, let me show you something.” He pulled his hand away and sat down in my chair. I could see his hair plugs. Normally this would turn me off, but I was bored.

“So, does the carpet match the carpet?” I asked, casually pointing to his groin area.

He didn’t answer. Instead he lifted up his shoulders and arched his back like a peacock. “By sitting up straight,” he said, “You give your lungs and diaphragm room to expand, making breathing easier.”

I laughed.  “Oh, don’t worry about that,” I said. “I only wear my diaphragm after work hours. And on casual Fridays.”

He stood behind me and took notes. I made small talk. “So, did you watch last nights’ episode of “Little People, Big World?”

“I don’t watch television,” he said.

“What do you mean you don’t watch television? What do you do from 6:00pm-1:00am every night?”

“I spend time with my wife and kids.”

“You have kids?” I couldn’t believe he was just telling me this now. “Do they live with your ex, at least?”

I was going to need some time to adjust to the idea of being a weekend mom.

“No. They live with me. And my wife.”

I felt like he was giving me mixed signals. So I decided to try a different approach.

“So, Ronathan, what do you do for a living?” Thanks to my extensive yet brief dating history (I’m a firm believer in quantity over quality), I know that guys really like talking about their work.

“It’s Ron. And I’m an Ergonomics Specialist.”

“Oh, right. I’m assuming this career was inspired by that Hunchback of Notre Dame movie?”

“Actually, ergonomic practices date back as far as Ancient Egypt.”

“That would explain the song ‘Walk like an Egyptian’.”

“Not really.”

Despite my objections, Ronathan gave me some ergonomic-friendly tips.

He talked about proper mouse placement. I talked about my debilitating fear of mice.  He said that wearing restrictive clothing impedes breathing. I asked him if that was his way of asking me to have sex with him. He shook his head no. I nodded mine yes.  It was fate.

Before I left, I slipped him my number. “Just ask for the girl who gets around more than a swivel chair,” I whispered. “My boyfriend will know who you’re talking about.”

Sadly, he never called.

Still, I knew I’d made a lasting impression on him when I arrived at my cubicle on Monday morning and found this:


Me, in my new ergonomically-correct workspace.



  1. you effin KILL ME. simply awesome. And No, I wont call you either. Probably.

    • holy hell, your comment widget posts FOR ME. I never hit Enter. What a douche. I still had plenty to say!!!!! Like I had lots of important words that I was going to write down in regards to the hilarity of your post!!!!

      Oh nevermind. I was just super pissed it didn’t let me out in my blog address. Move along…

      • Ha! Don’t worry, I thought your comment was brilliant anyway. (Especially the “simply awesome” part.)

        And even though you lost me at “I won’t call you either,” you totally made up for it at “probably.”

        • I totally meant ‘wouldn’t call you either”. Cause you’re perverted. But on second reflection, that just makes you MORE likeable. So how ’bout we scratch off comment 1 as a draft m’k?

  2. Wow, we are like the same person. I sit like that in Management Meetings as well. Probably why I am firmly ensconsed on the bottom rung of the ladder. I have nowhere to go but up, baby!!

    Ronathan sounds sexy. Does he have a brother? If so, have him call me. I can go out once I put the kids down for bed and my hubs shuts himself in his office to do work. Hell, just have him come over. That’s what kitchen tables are for, right? IYKWIM. ;)

    • Exactly. That’s why I never dine at my kitchen table. Not only is it unhygienic, I don’t believe in mixing business with the pleasure I get from eating.

  3. I think I would be all over the astronaut work station. Just probably break a hip getting in and out of the chair.

    BTW, you got your wish on my site today.

    • Wait…don’t tell me. Does it rhyme with Tori Smelling? And have a horse face?

      Forget it, I’m too impatient to wait for answer…I’m on my way.

  4. I so don’t miss working in offices, but oooo, I want that workstation! And I love your alter’s cheerful, predatory clulessness.

  5. I’m going to try that emailing posture at my next motion hearing in Chancery Court. I am reasonably confident that will render pretty much everyone speechless. Also, since I am leaving for another exotic and potentially dangerous outdoor adventure holiday on Saturday, I’m going to try the management meeting pose to unkink my back for the kayak, I can always count on you to help me out with fabulous tips on better living.

    • Because I’m also an exotic trip safety expert, I’m going to give you a tip. Take all of the poses I listed above and reverse the order. Every night before you leave, practice each one religiously.

      Not only is this method guaranteed, it is also proactive, as it will prevent any banana-hammock-wearing, Steppenwolf-loving men on the beach from subjecting your eyes to their junk. (I forgot to add that you should also be holding a can of mace.)

  6. Brilliant as ever! He spends time with his wife and kids…yeah, watching television!, what else do families do together if not watching TV, actually I know the answer but it’s frowned upon these days.

    • What? Board games? Dance Dance Revolution only without the revolution part? A lethargic yet somehow still overthinking mind wants to know!

      • It is a game……a game for all the family….it’s called Incest.

        Manufactured by Hasbro, it has elements of many of their existing games, for example, Guess Who takes on a whole new meaning.

  7. I had to take a deep, cleansing breath before I clicked over to your blog because I always end up laughing really hard and then my lover, I mean LOWER back starts hurting. Do you think I could get Ronathon’s number? I have a thing for hair plugs. I’m not being funny.

    • Yes you are :-)

      • Nurse Myra is right. Whether you realize it or not, you ARE being funny. Also, you have eyebrows. And non-troll-like features and the ability to tell stories that are entertaining, as opposed to “I’d-rather-scoop-my-eyeballs-out-with-a-melon-baller-than-listen-to-this” kind of boring.

        Now that I think about it, you’re way too good for Ronathan. I’ll hook you up with my Chiropractor, Ronchard. That way you’ll also get free alignments,

  8. Does the carpet match the carpet?…That was great.

    My bosses don’t always appreciate my efforts or wit either. Last year for Earth Day, I did my part by sending all work related email to the RECYCLE bin. I try to do what I can.

    • Ha! I actually thought about doing that as well. But my biggest fear is that it will somehow end up being cyber-recycled back into my inbox.

      I usually just “help” my computer contract a nasty virus, then I spend the next week or so flirting with the nerdy I.T. guy.

  9. Rich Crete says:

    Let me try the facial expressions reading thing….
    All 6 of the people at the top just smelled the after effects of their cubicle mate’s lunch of slightly undercooked bratwurst and kraut from the German pub across the street.

  10. This post is brilliant on so many levels.

    First, it’s full of some very keen insights into the many hidden ergonomic problems facing today’s office workers. Most people forget the ergonomics of facial expressions in the workplace, choosing instead to pitch a complete fit over their chairs, keyboards, mice and computer displays. Petrified spines and carpal tunnel syndrome are trivial compared to the problems daily faced, pun intended, by the facially cramped. Those people are doomed to a life of being misunderstood by all. They are forced to wear either paper bags over their heads, or very heavy makeup. Applying to clown school is the only real alternative. Or mime school. Like that’s even a choice.

    Thank you for taking on the thorny issue of Chronic Facial Expression Syndrome.

    That last photo really looks like you too. When were you an ergonomic furniture model?

    • Oh, David. You should know by now that I don’t like limiting myself to one specific career. As long as it challenges my mind (without requiring a post-secondary education), doesn’t involve manual labor, and brings out my kickass photoshop skillz, I’m in*.

      *some exceptions apply

  11. I happen to know for a fact that empty meeting rooms are your preferred napping locale, not under desks…

  12. My neck has been irrevocably fucked ever since I started working in an office.

    I blame the chair from 1973 and the whole “not being able to leave the desk unless it’s running to the bathroom or getting another cup of coffee to keep to misery away”

  13. “Just ask for the girl who gets around more than a swivel chair.”

    I get around like the kind of furniture that’s bolted to the floor in hotel rooms.

  14. Holy balls, you’ve got yourself a live one, girlfriend. That is a sex station if I’ve ever seen one (and I have). Looks like you better start wearing that diaphragm on the weekdays.

    What a wonderful post. I’m going to see if we have an ergonomics specialist at my workplace.

  15. I want to work with you B. and travel with you. Hell I’m even thinking I might want to sleep with you

  16. My father’s name was Ronathon. I don’t know why your new boyfriend is so afraid to embrace his full name. He probably thinks “Ron” is hip or something. Kids.

  17. That ergonomic business is pretty serious, eh? Now I’m going to lose sleep at night worrying that my back won’t be straight when I wake up. Thanks.

  18. Bea, diaphragms are totally outdated. The morning after pill can be bought over-the-counter now… at least here in States.

    I’d give this post two thumbs up, but my carpel tunnel is really acting up;)

  19. You’ll have to teach me how to casually point to the groin area. I hyperventilate and do the John Travolta disco move toward the whole area, I’d really like to limit this approach to emergencies only.

    • It’s really easy. Except sometimes I accidentally end up resting my hand against it and I get really depressed when they don’t call me after that.

  20. OMG!!! HILAROUS! Seriously, why have you kept your amazing wit and humor such a secret! You are very naughty and it’s no wonder that Ronald never called you back. Also, I gave you an award.

  21. elizabeth3hersh says:

    You would have given Michael Scott (The Office) a run for his money Bschooled. Great post as usual and bloody brilliant.

    P.S. Even though I have worked in psychiatry half of my life, I still can’t match the ‘feeling’ to the facial expression.

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