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Last man sitting

Adding now to the sheer physical discomfort of modern travel — which already includes a lack of knee room on the flight, lack of food other than a microbag of peanuts, lack of a decent pinot noir in coach class (the horror, the horror), death-march hikes down airport concourses, standing in line endlessly at the TSA, protracted shuttle rides through the LAX traffic jam on the way to the Alamo/National rental car complex, and so on — we now have the new feature of the Charging Station tucked afterthoughtishly into a weird nook of the airport (see McCarran, Vegas), and equipped with hard metal stools that seem to be designed to inflict pain as you revive your electronics.

But at least there’s a seat! Here at DCA, where I’m about to embark (debark??) for Florida, the charging station is a stand-up affair. Which reminds me of that piece in the New Yorker by Susan Orlean: Apparently we are supposed to do our work now standing up — or better yet, on a treadmill.

She has a treadmill desk. More power to her. Orlean reports that sitting is really bad for you even if you “make up for it” by jogging or going to the gym. Apparently when you sit you do all kinds of horrible things to your muscles, bones, metabolism. You basically coagulate, fester and spoil. You become rotten to the core.

This is why, in a modern workplace, you increasingly notice that people are standing at their desks. For now it’s still mostly a novelty, but as the rumor spreads that sitting is equivalent to eating battery acid we will surely see more and more people standing on the job, and sneering at the sitters, who will be deemed weak and unprincipled.

Here’s what I want right now, however: A CHAIR. I know that’s asking for a lot. And I know that I shouldn’t mind that traveling involves endless Soviet-era lines just for a cuppa joe at the Dunkin Donuts. And I should be pleased that I got the exit row for this flight to Florida. But one of these days I’m going to stand my ground, as it were, and demand special luxuries like a place to sit while I’m waiting to board my flight and trying to type.

I can type standing up, don’t get me wrong. But it feels like a stunt and feels rushed and I don’t feel like I have time for verbal flourishes such as adjectives. Or a “kicker” as we say.

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."



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Joel Achenbach · June 24, 2013

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