Ring Around the White Collar
If you thought you were as safe as the Hope diamond just because you don't work with molten lead or heavy machinery, you've been living in a fool's paradise and not paying rent. Or so some recent studies would have you believe. The day-to-day physical safety of the American office worker has been called into question by any number of federally-funded researchers. I suspect the little rapscallions have pooled their grant money and are using the surplus for a celebratory kegger as we speak (and just how do they manage to obtain so much grant money when I can't get a revolving charge at Penney's?).
To hear the experts tell it, the routine of the average desk jockey is a veritable mine field of potential disaster, with a workman’s comp claim around every water cooler. We’re not talking about garden variety complaints such as carpal tunnel syndrome here or mishaps that occur when power cords and spilled lattes find themselves underfoot. The plight of the luckless administrative assistant pinned under a top-heavy file cabinet is no concern of ours. We have bigger fish to fry. Or should I say microwave? The College of Olfactory Practitioners would have you believe a direct correlation exists between reduction in office productivity and the effects of what is referred to in the literature as “other people’s stinky food” wafting into the cube farm from the employee microwave. Workers are heartily encouraged to adopt respirators as part of the dress code (in colors befitting the company logo, of course).
Evidently, smell is not the only sense under fire from debilitating forces. If you stare at a computer monitor for upwards of 8 hours a day, you are subject to eye strain and mental fatigue. Seems sensible enough but the remedies proposed in The Eye: A User’s Guide are less likely to provide relief than to get you fired (or at least inspire a fit of silliness). “Remember to blink and breathe” cautions the trained professional without a trace of irony. “Every 30 minutes, close your eyes slowly, as if you are falling asleep.” There is no mention of what to do when you open your eyes to find the Director of Human Resources staring in disbelief at your drooling kisser.
The Journal of Holistic Wellness and Feng Shui Manual cautions that American office workers are especially likely to fall victim to “Bad Vibes” and least likely to take steps to counteract said negativity. The journal proposes that a “bummed” worker surround him or herself with calendars depicting cute baby animals, frolicking whenever possible.
As for me, I plan to don a hazmat suit and Kevlar mittens (with mitten clips) before next setting foot in my office. If I’m in the sensory deprivation tank when you call, you’ll have to leave a voicemail. My assistant is under the file cabinet.