Prompt text: A character arrives at work to find their chair missing. What happened to it?

“The hell is this horseshit?”

Chuck had never been taught the concept of an “inside voice” as a child.  Consequently everyone in the department knew what he thought on any topic, whether engaged in conversation with him directly or trying to work despite the loudness in a cube four rows away.  I had already been in the office a while, and seen what the new office policy had wrought.  I had no doubts about how Chuck would handle the change, and he hadn’t disappointed me.

I made sure I’d saved the worksheet I had open, lest the tech gods smite my hubris.  Then I made my way down to Chuck’s office.  The door stood wide open, and by the shadow cast upon it I could tell Chuck was standing near it.  He was probably looking around his office for signs he was the victim of some kind of practical joke.  As I walked up behind him, he turned towards me.  Incredulously, he asked, “Who in the hell took my GODDAMN CHAIR?!?!”

I peered past Chuck into the office.  It was one of the smaller offices on our floor, about 15 feet square.  When he’d first moved in, facilities had given Chuck the option to have the walls painted one of three colors.  He chose red.  If there’d been a survey of the department, we would have selected maybe blue or beige.  Something more soothing in the hopes he’d be less high strung.  Sadly, our input was never solicited.

Chuck’s desk sat on the right side, perpendicular to the door and the outside window on the opposite side.  Where Chuck’s office chair would normally be, a balance ball stood.  It was about two and half feet in height, and the PVC plastic is was made from had a high sheen reflecting the office fluorescent lighting.  It was clearly very new.  To the credit of whoever selected it, the shade of red the balance ball was matched the walls perfectly.

“You remember when you filed a complaint with facilities that you needed a new chair?” I asked.  “Back when I was complaining that mine was hurting my back?”

“Well, yeah.” Chuck’s tone had dropped as his confusion increased.

“And they had those ergonomic experts come in and study how we sat and worked? They watched you, me and the contractor we brought on to help with the end of quarter rush,” I went on.

Chuck’s annoyance resurfaced as he failed to make the connection I was leading him to.  “Yeah yeah yeah, I remember all that crap, what’s that got to do with my goddamn chair going missing?”

I sighed.  “That’s your new chair, Chuck.”

“Oh, fuck that!” I knew he was pissed if he was dropping f-bombs loud enough for anyone to hear.  Chuck didn’t stand on ceremony for anyone in the office, but he broke out the heavy vulgarities only when pushed to his limits.

“No, Chuck, I’m serious,” I went on.  “I’ve been here for an hour, it was the first email I opened.”  I crossed my arms, bemused at how much the situation appeared to have tripped all of Chuck’s triggers.  “Some new special ergonomic program.  They’ll order a special chair if they need to.  But they want us to try the balance balls first and work on our posture while we’re working.”  As I thought back about the last hour, a realization dawned on me.  “To be honest, I’ve found it be pretty comfortable.”

“I don’t give a crap what you think of it,” Chuck replied.  He angrily tossed his laptop bag onto his desk.  “I’m gonna go have a talk with those hippie dippy assholes down in HR, and I’m gonna get me a goddamn chair to work in.”

I couldn’t contain a smirk, which I knew agitated Chuck even more.  “Come on, Chuck.  You haven’t even given it a try yet!”

“Damn right I haven’t, and I’m not gonna.” He brushed past me and down the aisle, muttering the whole way.  “Goddamn HR jackasses…no clue how an office should be run.  I’ve gotta work here, today…how the hell am I gonna get anything done with furniture out of a goddamn pre-school?”

I watched him go.  Once I was certain he was out of earshot, I said out loud to no one in particular, “You do that, Chuck.” I walked back to my desk shaking my head.  “Sure you’re gonna go over great with that attitude and vocabulary.”


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