How Much Do You Think About Sitting?

I mean, nobody really thinks about sitting down. It’s just a thing that we have to do. But, I probably put more thought into it than you do. Waaaaay back in my second post to this blog I promised I’d talk more about why it freaking sucks to be tall. So, here it is. This is the one. Hope you’re ready for it.

The venerable C. Montgomery Burns once said “From the lowliest peasant to the mightest pharoah, who does not enjoy a good sit?” Everybody loves to sit down. I mean, it’s the simplest thing in the world. Plant ass in chair. What’s there to think about?

When was the last time you went to the theatre? I’m talking Broadway here. For $100 (the cheap seats) I get to squeeze myself into a seat that is so close to the one in front of me I can’t put my feet on the floor. I wedge my knees against the next row’s seat, and just kind’ve let my feet dangle a few inches off the floor. By the time the intermission comes around I’ve pretty much lost feeling in my toes. If it’s a long show there’s a real possibility my feet will be asleep. While there are very few people who would say that theatre seats are comfortable most people won’t have their movement impeded for a short period after they stand up.

Cinema (ooh, cinema, I’m fancy) seating isn’t much better. Until recently, the stadium seating in most movie theaters was fantastic for me, and the rest of the very tall. You just made sure you got there in time to grab those front seats on the tiered section. You know the ones. Not at the front of the theater, but the bottom tier, with the bar in front that was divided from the floor seats by the walkway. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, those seats were freaking sweet for giants. You could stretch your legs out without kicking anybody and thanks to the people behind also being above there was no self-consciousness about blocking somebody’s view! Unfortunately, it seems that layout is going away. What it’s being replaced with is a traditional incline floor plan with recliners.

Let’s talk about recliners for a sec here. Recliners are the king of comfy chairs. For normal people. For long people, they’re just another disappointment and reminder of our freakish proportions. Two things interfere with our full appreciation. The first is the height of the chair back. When the average person reclines their head rests near the top of the chair’s back. When someone above a certain height, usually around 6’3″, lays back, their head is too far back and they find themselves looking at the back of the theater. Upside down. It’s not comfortable. We can’t just scoot down, though. That’s because of the second barrier between us and maximum comfy. The leg rests are meant to be pushed down, so they can bear the weight of an average set of legs. Regardless of actual weight, though, physics and leverage can interfere with the intended function. You see, the further past the end of the footrest one’s legs hang, the greater the effective weight on the footrest. I’m a very skinny guy, but if I stretch my legs out on most reclining chairs the footrest immediately sinks. The further I scoot down so that my head isn’t hanging off the chair the more my legs do which drops the footrest and raises my head. I have a choice between lying on my side and half-curling up or leaving myself in a position between upright and reclined that offers the comforts of neither.

That’s sitting we pay for. But what about the sitting we get paid for? Do you think that’s better? No. No, it is not. Office chairs are notoriously uncomfortable. It’s a simple fact of life. But, some of us are lucky enough to work for a company that cares about its employees to make an effort toward seeing that they don’t suffer serious spinal injuries. These angelic employers will purchase more expensive chairs with a magical feature: lumbar support. Fuck lumbar support chairs. Fuck them so hard.

These chairs are designed to fit the contours of a person’s back. Another unfortunate side effect of being tall is that the curve of one’s back doesn’t usually start where most people’s would. It’s a bit higher. So, instead of a comforting support in the curve of our lower backs we get a mound pressing into that spot where your hips meet your back, pushing our pelvises forward while we sit. The only way to get comfortable is to, again, scoot down in the chair, but that is not really a good position to maintain for an 8-hour workday. You’ll find a lot of tall folk will opt for a straight-backed chair when working at a desk.

And oh boy, that desk. The first thing we do when sitting down to get to work is raise the chair to its maximum height so that we can get as close as possible to the standard 90 bend in our knees while we’re sitting. You’ll find a lot of people over 6’5 or so will have a shallower angle because the chairs don’t go that high, but close enough. Now, we can’t fit our legs under your desk. If we can, it’s by the barest margin. And the bottoms of  most desks aren’t empty planes, especially on the cubicle-farm type. They have support struts. Upon taking a new desk it usually requires about 3-4 good slams of a kneecap against a metal bar to imprint exactly where they’re located on this particular desk.

This doesn’t even touch on the height of the actual work surface. Taller folk are usually hunched over their desks when writing and their computer monitors are raised up using whatever’s at hand. If you walk through an empty office and see a cubicle with a monitor perched precariously on an old pizza box and 2 phone books from 1998 you’ve located the office giant’s lair. Tread softly.

I’ve limited today’s entry to a few pertinent examples. I haven’t covered transportation or the toilet yet, so look forward to that!