I didn't remember signing up for a new chair, but if they said I did, I'll take it. "Is it new new or new-to-me?" I asked.
"Brand new," she said. "It hasn't even been unwrapped."
I hated being suspicious, but when it comes to office chairs and their newness, I've been burnt before.
I once worked at a place where decent chairs were hard to come by and there was definitely a hierarchy when it came to the best ones. I inherited mine from a former assistant manager, and though it wasn't bad, it also wasn't the best. When word got around that new chairs had been ordered, it beat the weather as the go-to small talk conversation starter. It was all people talked about for months. I can't wait for the new chairs to get here. The new chairs are going to be sooo nice. New chairs, new chairs, new chairs. These chairs should have shot us into space and massaged our feet at the same time as much as people talked about them.
As life goes, these mythical chairs finally showed up after I put in my two weeks notice, when I only had a week left. An announcement was made for all employees who signed up for new chairs to meet outside the break room for a demonstration on how to use them.
The guy who delivered the chairs clearly had no patience for pasty, soft-handed office workers and their need to be 'demonstrated' on how to work a chair.
"Alright," he said, grabbing the different levers. "This makes it go up, this makes it go down, this makes it go back and this makes it go forward. Easy."
He got out of the chair. "Anyone want to demonstrate?"
"OH-KAY." He had enough of us. "Come on. It's not going to hurt and it's not that hard." The look on his face revealed how he really felt about us: You pathetic wimps sit on your asses all day and can't even operate your damn chairs.
I might be a pathetic wimp, but if a childhood of watching Nickelodeon and reading The Baby-sitters Club prepared me for anything, it was to sit on my ass, and I'll be damned if some guy is going to me make me feel even more of an idiot about it.
"I'll do it," I said, stepping forward and sitting in the chair. "This makes it go up, this makes it go down, this makes it go-"
Before I could continue, one of the company higher ups broke through the crowd and told me to stop messing around and let the guy show us how to use it.
"He asked someone to demonstrate!" I protested.
Many of my co-workers came to my defense, but since the person of power had missed the previous show, the poor yinzer had to do it all over again. I felt bad for him, but not as bad as I felt for myself. Have you ever been yelled at for sitting in a chair? I didn't think so.
It wasn't until I was back at my desk that I learned the differences between new and "new". Scuffle marks on the wheels, wear and tear on the arms and (worst of all) stains all over the seat- these weren't new new, they were new-to-us.
Look, I love Goodwill, but just because I buy something from there that I've never owned before doesn't mean someone else didn't own it before me. This makes it OLD, not NEW. New and used cars are not interchangeable, and neither are office chairs when it looks like someone shit themselves on it.
I used my old chair the rest of the week. It was disappointing, but at least I was pretty sure the previous owner kept their bowels to themselves.