Sunday, August 9, 2015

I suppose I will stand for it

All this arose from a single medical study that claimed, and I quote, that anyone who sits at a desk all day, even a fitness buff, is doomed. I believe I was sitting while I read about it. And even though one of my favorite movie lines is “You gotta die of something,” spoken by Sean Connery’s character Malone in The Untouchables, something sent a chill up my spine.

Which is why I have a standing desk.

It’s a cool Varidesk model, with dual levels and a width that allows for two monitors (one per eyeball) above and a keyboard beneath. My company bought a slew of them—or was it a slew and a half? And everyone who wants one gets one. The foresightful, like myself, never surrendered the old desk and chair; I sit down when I catch myself standing like a flamingo. Of the others, not necessarily fogies-in-training like myself, some have started suffering back or foot pains from standing all day. They went to their doctors. Who told them they’re doomed.

My first challenge, as a relatively early adopter of The Standing Desk, was that if I decided to sit down for a while, co-workers who happened by treated me like a clergyman caught looking for female companionship at the local red-light district. “You’re not standing,” one would notify me. His implication was that, having gotten the company to give me a standing desk for which they’d already paid, I was expected to show my gratitude by never again sitting down. For the remainder of my career.

If I seem less than grateful, it’s because I know what comes next. Once everyone at the company has a standing desk, next will come the treadmill desks, which already exist in a single room at my company’s headquarters. I’d be the last holdout—I tend to find myself pasted against the nearest wall whenever I use a treadmill—but these would be just one step toward the next goal: the [word(s)hamster-wheel desk.

I wish I could say they’d stop there, but oh no. First comes the hamster wheel. Next, one of the PTB (the Powers That Be, of course) would realize that such technology, just as with bicycle-powered generators , could produce enough electricity to power a seven-watt nightlight bulb. Next would come the requirement that we power, with our revolutionary wheeling, the lights, computers, and everything else in our office—or have our pay docked to make up the difference. Don’t even ask how they’d rig up the bathroom.

Fast-forward to a few years from now, when humans have gotten chips embedded into their brains and can work and communicate without the need for computers. Work, thanks to tomorrow’s node-to-node technology, will be done merely by putting our heads together, literally. (Talking? What’s that?) But given the many months of powering corporate America with hamster-wheel desks, power companies across the country will have gone out of business. And since employees could now do all their work without use of their arms, legs, and everything else besides their brains, human-generated electricity could reach its full potential. If we didn’t power the computers that upload thoughts to our embedded chips hourly, after all, how could we think?

Rather than individually powered hamster wheels of the past—so yesterday—management would now embrace the rowing-machine concept. Picture, for instance, pairs of staffers who work closely together. They’re communicating through their brainwaves—or, more likely, the embedded chips’ brainwaves. And while they’re doing all this communicating, each pair of workers would hold an oar-like pole and together push it forward, then pull it back, in a circular motion. And repeat. And repeat—is it 5 o’clock yet? At the other end of the oar-like poles would be whirring gears that, from all of this rowing activity, would drive the motors that power the building.

Of course, all this pushing and pulling by all these pairs of workers would have to be done in a certain rhythm, or else the lights would continuously flicker—and never mind what unsteady power would do to IT’s servers. So one manager would sit in a central location with no job other than to call cadence by pounding his drum. Others would stand over us, brandishing whips. We all have to do our part for the planet, after all. The best part? We could even sit while rowing.

Ah, technology. Ah, progress.

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