The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

27 November 2015

On being not tall and the chair

I am not a tall person, by which I mean to say that I am almost short. I may have already mentioned it here at The Lighthouse in which case I do most sincerely apologize for taking up your blog reading time with redundancies.

Being not tall is a deeply sensitive issue with me, because My People are Dutch. According to it-was-posted-on-line-so-it-must-be-true statistics, the Dutch are the tallest people. I'm not sure if that is a world record or a European record. When the Dutch Family visited for Christmas last year, their twelve-year old daughter was taller than me, with her mom and dad being so tall I had to stand on tip toe for my head to reach their shoulders.

There are many instances during the day when being almost short is an inconvenience. There are tall shelves everywhere, requiring the use of a step stool (or chair, but shhh... don't tell Health and Safety about that). There are awkwardly spaced stairs, unreachable hooks, and lost books on tippy-top shelves all over the library. Chairs are often uncomfortable, with too-deep seat pans and too-tall chair legs so that my own legs swing awkwardly, feet rarely flat on the ground.

Which brings me to the inspiration for this post: the Ridiculous Chair.  This is the chair at the circulation counter, which is high, so the chair must needs also be high. There is no handy step-stool, nor even a convenient bar upon which to hop and so launch oneself upward and into the seat. It has taken me three weeks to perfect my method: I stand with my back to the chair, hitch my left hip up, perch with corresponding cheek and proceed to wiggle from side to side while also pulling myself up, ungainly and awkward, by the arms of the chair. This maneuver works wonders on my professional image, I assure you.

Oddly, when I first arrived in this library, the spot under the desk where this chair lives had a shelf across it, so one would have to sit as though side-saddle, with legs and torso facing opposite directions, feet dangling uncomfortably many inches from the ground. I removed the shelf so I can sit straight-on, stacked several very large books atop one another so my feet have a resting place, and do my very best to have everything I need with me at the desk so I needn't slide down and climb up again too often.

When perched in the Ridiculous Chair I feel like the stern overseer character in a Dickensian novel. Rows and rows of clerks hunch over their desks while I glower at them over my half-glasses, and I remind them to be grateful for the crusts of bread they get for lunch. (In real life I am a slightly cranky librarian, negotiating world peace one teenager at a time.)

Such is the power of a chair for one who is not tall.

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