If you think you've got problems, consider the Navy Department civilian worker who has crash-landed at least 15 times while attempting to navigate his 330 pounds into a government-issue chair designed for lesser civil servants.
For that matter, how about the $600 to $3,000 worth of chairs (estimates vary) he has reduced to kindling during his time on the job? Or the mental anguish of the office equipment manager who must keep trotting down to the stock room for replacements for the man who, when he is standing, is 6 feet 6 inches tall.
In an attempt to solve the problem, the Navy man's office asked if it would be all right to buy the worker a more expensive, heavy-duty chair from the federal supply catalog. A regular chair -- the kind he converts to doormats -- costs around $200. The heavy-duty model runs upwards of $700.
Mindful of the adverse publicity the Pentagon received over the purchase of $5,000 coffee pots; super-expensive wrenches and toilet seats priced for a king, the request was passed on and up the chain of command.
The issue finally reached the General Accounting Office, the agency that monitors the fiscal side of the federal bureaucracy for Congress.
The GAO, which can be incredibly tight-fisted, took the problem under consideration. In brief, it said the government would be foolish to keep putting chairs built for 200-pounders under the Navy worker. The GAO reasoned that the expenditure is reasonable under the circumstances. Navy got the signal to buy the high-priced chair.
Both the Navy and the GAO declined, for privacy reasons, to give the name of the man or say where he works.