I’ve been dreaming about Mama Compensation* for a long, long time. At long last, this week, I have finally been injured at work.
What a heady experience and an exciting time! It is a time full of great promise …
Here’s how it happened. This last Monday I returned to work after a nine-day vacation. That’s five whole days off sandwiched between four weekend days. It also happened to be the first week paid week of vacation I’ve had since the year 2000. (Shudder. That streak is almost too evil to contemplate.)
If coming back from a three-day weekend at work is rough then being away for nine whole days was a friggin’ nightmare. I knew there was zero chance of having a “normal” day upon my return. What is normal, anyway? One definition is: “What everyone else is but you are not.” In a workplace setting, however, a normal day is a theoretical construct; something that simply doesn’t exist.
So on Monday because some job duties had been shuffled around due to a new employee, I was forced to work at her desk for a few hours so she could work at mine. (This has gone on all week. I’m still waiting for that “normal” day.) Eventually her new computer will arrive and we’ll get all of the software and printers moved around so we can each do what we need at our own workstations. Who knows when that day will come? Like usual the company fails to plan ahead. Hire employee then think about the tools. It just isn’t possible to do things in any other order! Until then we’ll continue to play workstation switcheroo.
Now the one thing I hate most in the whole world are those little slide-out keyboard trays that live just under the top of a desk. (Ever notice how the thing I’m complaining about right now is always the thing I hate the most? That’s just the way I roll.) My workstation certainly does not have one of those trays. The day I moved in I grabbed some tools and physically removed the damn thing so it wouldn’t hit my knees all day long.
Co-worker’s desk, however, had the keyboard safely ensconced below. This forces several things to happen. First your hands are too low which increases the distance your eyes must travel when looking back and forth between the monitor and the keyboard. I normally keep the keyboard as close to the monitor as possible. And secondly, the tray when slid out forced me to sit an additional one foot away from the desktop. Which happens to be where the mouse lives. (The tray didn’t have room for a little mouse pad.)
Without realizing it, I used the mouse for hours right at the extreme edge of the desk. That meant my arm and wrist were suspended in mid-air as I did my work. At my desk my right arm normally stays flopped on the desk like a dead fish and very little power and muscle movement is required to twitch the mouse around its pad.
You guessed it. That minor little difference in arm position led to my injury. By 11am I was like, “Damn! My wrist fucking hurts!”
Now, aside from having absolutely no muscle conditioning of any kind, this is the embarrassing part. I bitched about the keyboard tray to my supervisor and she said something rather brilliant. “Why not move the keyboard on top of the desk?”
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!
I’m a genius sort of dude, or so I thought. Why the hell didn’t I think of that??? The keyboard was even cordless, so there was no need to get an my hands and knees and fiddle with cords. (Which is, by far, the thing I hate most in the whole world.) Two seconds later the keyboard was snuggled up to the monitor and my arm was properly lounging on the desk where it could fondle the mouse in leisure all it wanted.
Of course I was still injured at this point. And this is where the dramatic sadness and melancholy kicks in. See, even though severely crippled by injury, I still had to keep working! And the next day, too. And the day after that! In fact, it’s almost like I’m never going to see a return on the promise of bounty on this injury! Even now I can sit here and clench my fist. Ow! That hurts!
I guess Mama Compensation is going to leave me hanging one more time…
*Video: Kids in the Hall: Mama Compensation.