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The Fatal Desk Chair

You’re still alive?

What a relief!

As I’m sure you remember, last week’s column listed a few of the “24 ways your office job is literally killing you,” a recent Rachel Sugar post on Business Insider. I would have listed all 24, except I am limited by space, and, frankly, I felt it would be better for me spend a little time away from the office. I’m not paranoid, but I really didn’t like the looks I was getting from the office shredding machine.

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In short, we both survived a week of peril at the hands of our work environments and, as promised, here I am again with more of the 24 ways your office is out to get you.

Let’s start the cavalcade of office crime with Killer Threat No. 2 – Sugar’s admonition that “regular slouching in your chair can lead to long-term illnesses.” Specifically, these are “a pool of chronic long-term ailments – including arthritis and bursitis.” Sugar’s solution is to “get a sitting device that allows you to straighten your poor posture,” but, frankly, I’m not sure what device ever devised will lift you from the subservient perma-slouch you’ve developed after years of enduring the whacks and wallops that regularly rain down from above.

My solution is to outfit your cubical with a rack – you know, the medieval torture instrument that stretches your arms and legs until you confess your crimes. A few turns of the wheel and you will be straight as an arrow, and maybe, just maybe, when your managers see you writhing in agony, they will lighten up. [Not many people know that the rack was invented by Emperor Nero’s HR department and originally used for reviewing expense accounts.]

Acceding to Office Deathwatch No. 4 will not be difficult. “Skipping breakfast puts your body in a constant stressful state” is the warning du jour, and I know you will agree that “people who don’t eat breakfast have a greater risk of high blood pressure, being overweight, and having heart issues compared to those who regularly eat within two hours of waking up.”

Frankly, this is one risk sugar-coated by author Sugar. Yes, you must eat within two hours after waking up, but it is also important to eat two hours before waking up. In fact, it is extremely risky to stop eating. If not eating for two hours causes such dire consequences, imagine how long you will live if you never stop eating – ever.

Of course, you are already making progress on this matter. With a box of donuts always within arm’s reach, and a healthy supply of mac & cheese in your briefcase to tide you over for those long trips from the snack machine to the cafeteria, you do manage to reach the daily dietary minimum of 35,000 calories. But you have to admit that this Olympian level of constant noshing does fall off when you are asleep, putting you at risk of going five or 10 minutes without life-affirming qualities of pizza and guacamole. That’s why, at nighttime, I recommend that you replace your sheet with a sheet cake. You’ll nibble your way through the night and wake up refreshed and hungry.

Though we usually steer away from prurient sexual issues in this column, Workplace Hazard No. 10 demands our close attention. But not too close. After all, researchers at the State University of New York found that “laptops can raise the temperature of the scrotum, which could lower a man’s sperm count.” [As a woman, you may be somewhat less concerned with your scrotum and your sperm count, note that a hot laptop on your lap can also cause skin problems.]

A facile antidote to this risk would be to tell you to stop using laptops, but that wouldn’t make sense, since the best way to accelerate what we laughingly call “your career” is to have the smallest, coolest, thinnest laptop in the office. (My own laptop is so thin, I can put in inside a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and never even tasted. Though it does make an awfully loud crunch. Apple really needs to fix that.)

But a low sperm count is no joke – especially to the sperm, who do get lonely – so I suggest you replace your laptop with an abacus. This will be an improvement, but it’s not a perfect solution. Slamming those wooden beads around on your lap can cause a whole other set of health problems. It may not kill you, but it sure can hurt.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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