Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Damn My Good Taste

It never fails that when I decide I need something, you can bet your ass it will be outrageously expensive. For a few months now I been having back pain and shoulder pain and finally decided it's related to a few things, namely poor posture at my desk caused by a combination of a cheap office chair, and awkward keyboard and monitor placement.

The fact that I have two keyboards and two monitors makes it worse because neither monitor is directly in front of me. I am always working at angles to the left or right. That problem will soon be addressed with a 2-port switch I've ordered which lets me plug 2 computers into it, but I work with one monitor, one mouse, and one keyboard, and simply press a button to switch from one computer to the other.

I also do a lot of leaning into my desk because my monitor for personal use was pushed so far to the back of my desk. Since I'm off from office work this week, I did a test by moving my monitor more to the center of my desk, and closer to my face, and I've noticed I'm more comfortable leaning back in my chair and I do far less leaning forward.

And that brings us to the chair in which I'm leaning back. Standard Office Depot cheapo leather "executive" chairs. I can't remember what I paid for it but I'd guess $79 low-end to about $129 high-end. And after sitting in this since about 2004 it has definitely taken a toll on me, my back and my butt.

A few days ago I popped into a local ergonomic specialty store, one of a national chain, and tried out half a dozen of their office chairs. All were pretty nice but only one spoke to me in that special way when you know you've found love. None of the chairs had prices listed (danger, Will Robinson! Danger!) and I didn't inquire.

I came home and visited their website and found what I thought was the chair and it was listed at just under $900. Wheeeeeee! That was shocking enough -- well, not really for me having seen the chair and experiencing the quality, but anyone reading this who might be unfamiliar with ergonomics might think I'm nuts.

Today I decided to go back to the store, sit in it again, and ask the price to see if is indeed the same chair. I mean, maybe it wasn't and that one was cheaper! Worth a shot!

Me to sales clerk: "How much is this chair?"
Sales clerk to me: "That one is $1,399."
Me, thinking: {Jesus H. Christ.. typical.}

Instead of completely dismissing the idea, I start trying to justify it. Well, first I came home to check the website again to see if maybe that chair was simply cheaper on the website. Then I noticed special options when you start building it on the web site. Headrest, extra. Armrests, extra. So by the time I recreated the chair in the store, it was no longer $879 or whatever, but bumping $1250-ish, and I left out the gel seat and other aesthetics which would have pushed it to $1399, or even higher.

So I started searching for discount office chairs on the internet with the intent of finding that chair or a knock-off for half as much. And I succeeded in finding a chair which looked very similar for about $600 on sale. That sounds good but I started questioning the wisdom of spending THAT much on a chair based on looks, which is sitting in a store in California. I would not have the opportunity to actually sit in it prior to ordering, and just because it looks similar does not mean it's going to caress my back and shoulders with firm support like a good lover when I lean back. That same site also offered the exact chair I'm wanting at almost twice the price of the look-alike which further led to my doubt that the $600 look-alike was going to be a feel-alike experience.

Finally I decided that might be a stupid move, a gamble with $600 vs. a safe bet for more.

Lucky me, I did find a site which has the same exact chair I saw here in Austin for considerably less. If I bought here in Austin, I'd need to tack on sales tax, and possibly a delivery fee (shipping from the local store's corporate web site is about $100) which would drive the cost even higher. So I would be saving $600 in the end. And most importantly, the discounted site I found is an authorized dealer for the Humanscale line.

I haven't ordered it yet, but as I sit here in my cheapo Office Depot chair with my lower back protesting every minute of it and remembering the exquisite feeling of the Humanscale Freedom chair, I can't imagine I'll be changing my mind. Konagod rarely does that.

Mercy, I am in love and love ain't ever been cheap. But the way I look at it, I'm getting this chair for the price of 18 one-hour massage sessions which I'm going to need if I keep sitting in this current piece of shit chair. I spend 9+ hours a day in this chair.

If that chair lasts five years (and it certainly should since my current cheap piece of shit is now 5 years old), that works out to 7-cents an hour. I'd call that a bargain.

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