Injuries, aging and the workplace

18 12 2010

This past week, I have been working at home because of a pulled muscle in my lower back, which has made sitting down very uncomfortable for me. One of the things I hate about this injury is that it is the sort of thing that doesn’t happen to younger people. And, to a large extent, the industry I work in at present (computer software) consists mostly of younger people – I am the second-oldest person in my workplace. (The oldest works out of Boston.) Only one other person in the company is even over 40.

Because computer companies are mostly staffed by younger people, these employers don’t really have to worry about things such as ergonomics, because young people are resilient and flexible enough to be able to sit anywhere. (Though, to be fair, my current employer is pretty good about that sort of thing.) During one of my Waterloo co-op work terms, I was given a wooden desk chair to sit in, which had no lower back support; I would never be able to sit in that chair now.

And, on one of my contracts a few years ago, I was given a desk that sat next to a wall, and an old-style monitor that was too large for the desk. I had to spend all day sitting with my head at a 45 degree angle to be able to read the screen. I didn’t develop any problems because of this, but someone older than me, or in worse shape, might have.

Anyway: I can’t help but think that if I start missing time regularly due to injuries, I will reinforce the perception that older people should not be hired because we are more likely to be out of the office. I feel like it’s my duty to get back to my desk as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize the hiring prospects for people in my age group.

Oh well – enough gloomy thoughts. I think I mentioned earlier that the early 1990s were probably my favourite era for music. This was just before Nirvana became megapopular, and “alternative” radio stations still only drew fringe audiences, which meant that they played a wider variety of songs. (I hate to sound like a cranky old fart, but radio when I was young was way better than it is now. Music wasn’t better then – there’s lots and lots of great music now – but good music is harder to find on the radio.)

Here’s two songs from the early 1990s that I like. The first is “Three Strange Days” by School Of Fish, for which a rather silly official video exists:

They kind of lost me with the whole eggs on the back thing. The School Of Fish story does not have a happy ending, by the way: the band broke up in 1994 after an unsuccessful second album, and lead singer Josh Clayton-Felt died of testicular cancer in 2000.

And here’s “Little Fluffy Clouds” by The Orb:

I think I once saw these two songs on a compilation CD somewhere (I think it was called “Maxi-Music”). One comment for this last video caught my attention:

When I lay on my death bed, at least I can look back and say I didn’t waste my twenties. I experienced the hell out of life then, when I was younger. That shit will stay with me forever, and this tune is a part of that.

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