The Chair Affair

by Jade Walker Read author interview September 15, 2003

It all started when I got to work and found my chair was missing. My $400, ergonomically correct, fit-to-my ass, leather chair. No one could mistake my chair for theirs. Mine had a small gold nameplate embedded into the seat.

The office had industrial green carpeting, so I couldn’t exactly follow the sliding track marks, but I did the next best thing. I calmly walked up and down the cubicle maze and investigated each cubby hole. Because it was still early and few people were in the office, I was able to turn the chairs around and look for the nameplate in the seat.

Alas, no luck.

Frustrated, I returned to my desk to scan its surface. Surely if one of my coworkers had borrowed the chair, they would’ve left a note. An I.O.U. Something.

Nothing.

For a few moments, I stood over my computer and glowered. I could feel heat emanating from the space between my eyes and I tried to breathe normally as I turned on my computer. I waited for it to boot up, growing more impatient by the second. Once the log-on was complete, I set the keyboard on the desk and furiously typed up an interoffice e-mail.

TO: The staff
FROM: Ellen Michaels, project manager
SUBJECT: The chair
NOTE: I arrived at work to find my chair missing from my desk. After a thorough search of the office, I was unable to locate it. Please return it immediately.

Diplomatic, but polite I thought. I hit send and went to the break room for a cup of coffee. Decaf.

It didn’t help.

When I returned to my desk 10 minutes later, my chair was still not in place, and the coffee burned like acid inside my chest.

Livid, I wrote another e-mail. The harder my fingers hit the keys, the angrier I became.

TO: The staff
FROM: Ellen Michaels, project manager
SUBJECT: Theft
NOTE: My chair is STILL missing. This is ridiculous, juvenile behavior. I DEMAND its return immediately!!

I sent off that e-mail and walked the floor again. Not only was I going to get my chair back, I was going to fire the thief who took it. Who the fuck did they think they were anyway?

I made my third circuit of the office as more co-workers arrived. I interrogated each one, but they all denied culpability. By this time, I could barely think straight. The rage had built up so high I was literally shaking.

Maria, my young assistant, took one look at my face and returned to her hurried typing.

“Do you know where my chair is?” I demanded.

“Nope.” She didn’t cease her typing.

“You’re lying,” I replied. “I can see it on your face.”

She ignored me, an act of defiance that only infuriated me more. I needed to get her attention so I reached for the stuffed monkey that hung from her bookshelf and stapled its head into the cushioned cubicle wall.

Maria stopped typing and stared in horror at the monkey. While she was distracted, I rushed forward, trapping her body between the keyboard tray and my torso. I raised the stapler threateningly and screamed, “Where the fuck is my chair?!”

Her mouth opened and shut, but no words came out. I swung and hit her face, hard. The stapler made a clunking noise against her skull. Then she slumped in her seat, and bled. I shoved her forcefully off the chair so I could see if anything was sewn into the seat.

No nameplate.

The sounds of our argument drew onlookers, then security. When I looked up from Maria’s chair, I saw two armed guards blocking the cubicle’s entrance. One knelt on the floor beside Maria’s body, checking for a pulse. The other pulled my arm behind my back and pushed my face forward to cuff me. My nose met the desk and broke.

As I was led out of the office and down to the waiting police cruiser, we passed a conference room. At the head of the rectangular, mahogany table was my chair, its gold nameplate glinting in the florescent lights. I started screaming then. I don’t remember when I stopped.

That was two months ago.

It’s not so bad here. I don’t have to work anymore. The nurses watch soap operas, but the orderlies let me sit at this table and write.

I even have my own chair.

About the Author:

Jade Walker is a freelance journalist, the editor of Siren Song Magazine, the writer behind Jaded Writings and The Blog of Death, and the moderator of both the New York City Writers Group and the South Florida Freelancers Group. She is also the former overnight editor/producer of The New York Times on the Web, and the former editor-in-chief of Inscriptions Magazine, which won four awards from Writer's Digest. To date, she has published several books, including the dark poetry collection Sex, Death and Other... (2002, Metropolis Ink).