Confessions of a Cheapskate with an Aching Back

I’m such a tight-wad, it’s pathetic. For a computer chair, I’ve used an inexpensive armless task chair for a long time. It raised and lowered, swiveled, had casters, worked just fine. But I had neck and back pain, so a physical therapist recommended twisting a towel into a tight roll and putting it behind my back when I sat in the chair. The towel wouldn’t stay twisted and I spent as much time repositioning it as I spent working, so I hit on the idea of rolling up a small bathmat whose rubber backing had worn away. It was nice and cushy and stayed rolled, especially after I put rubber bands in several places. To anchor it to the chair, I used a strip of clear packing tape. Worked just fine — amazing how dumb ideas seem brilliant at first.

But then the seat began to seem too hard, so I put a cushion on it. That worked just fine too, for a while. But after a while that cushion seemed to need its own cushion, so I added one that had a thin layer or air that shifted as I moved. Worked just fine.

So for quite some time I sat in a ratty-looking chair with a bath mat taped to the back and two cushions balanced on the seat. I’m not sure when the moment came when I realized that I needed to bite the bullet and spend money on a good chair. It may have been when people who’d never been to my house before went home and emailed me a photo of their own attractive desk chair. Just in case I’d been thinking of getting one, they said.

I began by checking local stores to see what they had in stock. They pretty much all had the same chairs. The chairs swiveled, they tilted, they raised, they lowered, just like the task chair I had. They came in leather or fabric or mesh. The prices ranged from under a hundred dollars to over three hundred. I couldn’t tell much difference in them, but some of them had been recalled because the backs had snapped off while people sat in them. Some people had been injured pretty badly, so I began to consider safety as a primary issue.

I nearly had a nervous breakdown scanning office chairs online where the prices range from under a hundred to over a thousand. That took three full days. I ended up with three choices that met all my criteria, but they were all way out of my price range. I decided I’d stick with my old dumb-rigged secretary chair, but a good friend who listened to me whine about how I couldn’t afford what I wanted lectured me about the importance of being comfortable while I write. Spend the money, she said, put my physical needs first. I said I might need that money someday for groceries. She said if that day ever came, she would bring food to me. Finally, with a weak and trembling finger, I clicked the buy button on the computer screen. The die was cast. I had crossed the point of no return. Well, actually, the company had a 30-day return policy and promised to pay for shipping if I sent it back, but it was still traumatic to hit that button.

My new Steelcase Leap chair came today, and I love it. I got the armless model in tomato red. It fits my back perfectly. It adjusts as I move. I don’t know how I ever worked without it. When the Visa bill comes, I’ll remind myself that it takes a strong back to write, and that my friend will bring food to me if I’m ever broke and hungry.


2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Cheapskate with an Aching Back

  1. Good for you, Blaize! I have one of those cheapy chairs and the material is starting to split at the edge of the seat right where my legs bends. Ugh! You’ve inspired me to start looking for a new chair, too!

  2. Isn’t it amazing how we get so used to those things that they become invisible? I hope your search is less of a trauma than mine was. Enjoy the new one!

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