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When Is A Chair More Than A Chair?

You know what they say about cigars. But maybe you didn’t know that a chair can be more than something to sit on, that is, unless you live in a high rise, where everyone knows that chairs are as much a symbol of power as  a place to park yourself.

My building doesn’t have one of those mega-sized desks that turn doormen into seated executives. We have a furniture-free vestibule where the doormen used to stand.

Then a few years back – OK, maybe more than a few years – a padded swivel chair appeared out of nowhere No one on the board said or did anything about it, the silence turning our doormen into unofficial sitters.

Then after living its useful life, the chair broke, and someone ordered a new chair just like the old one, transforming the unauthorized swiveler into an authorized seat – at least according to those sitting.

Nothing lasts forever.  A few weeks ago it, too, bit the dust.  Only this time, the board (of which I admit I’m a member) decided to reassert its authority and not replace the standard issue cushy swiveler, but to move the doormen into the main lobby and acquire an aesthetically appropriate desk and coordinated seat.

That’s when we found out who’s boss.

Not a day after the demise of the latest chair, an unfinished wooden stool appeared in its place, like something you might see in a seedy bar.

Then next day an ugly slatted folding bridge chair showed up in its stead lending a distinctly makeshift air to the entrance of our supposedly luxury building, making us wonder if a card game was in the offing.

A succession of different but equally uninspired eyesores, plucked from who knows where, greeted us each day.

Then they all disappeared.  I’m told management removed them, which was a relief because even though everyone on the board wanted them gone, no one wanted to branded a chair snatcher.

For a few days there were no chairs and the doormen reverted to standing.

That’s when we started getting emails, threatening to go to the Union, or the Board of Health, and every City agency unless the chair re-appeared like a pumpkin by midnight. Of course, this being co-opland, the very people complaining loudest were the ones who’d always made the staff most miserable, and now sensed an opportunity to vent their spleen on a different demographic.

Rather than risk a lawsuit claiming that the chair had become a non-removable permanent condition of employment, we decided to get a temporary seat that would make do till the move to the lobby allowed for a more aesthetic solution.

Only we couldn’t agree on what it should look like – shifting the power struggle from inter to intra-class warfare.

“Keep it simple”

“A plain straight backed number.”

“It should have a leather seat.”

“No, that’s too comfortable.”

“Would you want to sit on a cushionless chair all day?”

After fifty-three emails we agreed on a black and chrome affair – stylish but not anything you’d want to sink into.

Finally, The Chosen arrived – BROKEN! The company said we could keep it and they’d send another one. They don’t understand that a chair isn’t just a chair, but a means to restore the balance of power 

We’re still waiting. I just hope the temporary truce lasts till a new one shows up.

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