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A chair problem [1]

This spring, chairs from Noyce 3rd have been disappearing off to Facilities Management [2] to get their seats recovered. Why is that an issue? Well, at the end of our first summer code camp, I realized that we seemed to have many fewer chairs in Science 3813 (our primary introductory classroom) and Science 3815 (our secondary introductory classroom) than I expected. Since we expect to have some large classes in those rooms this fall, we need enough chairs [4].

I wasn’t quite out of Chair mode, so I did the only sensible thing: I made a list of how many chairs we need in each room and then I attempted to do an inventory. Along the way, I ended up doing a bit of a chair roundup: I peered in labs on Noyce 3rd; I moved some chairs to their matching locations.

To complicate matters, we now have two forms of task chairs in our classrooms. Some had their seats recovered. Some don’t. The anal-retentive part of my personality thinks that rooms should have one kind or the other, not both. Amazingly, I was able to achieve that goal: We only have twenty of the non-recovered chairs left in classrooms on Noyce 3rd [5,6]. That’s the number we need in Science 3818 [7]

Once I was done with my inventory, I found that we were short about a dozen chairs in 3820 [11] and about four chairs in 3815 [12]. So I did the logical thing. I asked Jerod if I could ask FM about it. Jerod gave me permission [14,15]. I wrote to FM. I also asked our ASA to write to FM to ask when the remaining chairs would be recovered.

Our Custodial Supervisor checked and agreed with my numbers (at least in terms of the numbers in each room). He also noted that he did not know of any in storage. Then there was silence. So I wrote again: What are the plans to make sure that we have matching chairs in our classrooms?

And then the fun started.

The one person in FM responsible for recovering chairs had no memory of recovering any of these chairs [16].

Our senior ASA dug out the plans for the original numbers of chairs in each room in Phase II renovation. Note that those plans are not the number that should be in the room. The numbers installed didn’t necessarily match the plans. Some rooms added tables and chairs. But it was a starting point.

Our Custodial Supervisor walked through the building to identify each room with matching chairs. Some made sense: The second-floor Math/Stats computing lab and computing classroom have matching chairs [17]. Some made less sense: There were a variety of research labs and other rooms that also had matching chairs.

The Procurement Manager at FM first said that no task chairs were available, but then identified a stash of slightly larger task chairs [18]. A mix of those and the current chairs won’t work, but perhaps we could use them for one room. Or, better yet, maybe we could trade them with others.

So Jerod and I did a walk through. We discovered that the second-floor classrooms are also missing a few chairs, as is the first-floor common computing classroom [19]. We asked folks with chairs in research labs whether they would be willing to trade. We found one room in Chemistry with seven or so chairs for which no chairs were identified in the Phase II plans. But the Chemistry Chair indicated that the room had about twenty of the chairs before FM started the recovering activities. That Chair was not enthusiastic about trading, since the task chairs matched the other chairs in the room.

Then we heard from the department we thought we might trade with [20]. From what I understand, they appreciate having a consistent pattern throughout the department and are not interested in trading. I kind of understand their perspective. But the designers never considered it useful to have a consistent pattern in our department. I think there are four or five different kinds of task chairs in our research labs [21], and at least three different kinds of sitty chairs [22]. FM has also treated one of our planned for future use offices as a trading space: Out went the matching furniture, in came random furniture. Why should one department get to keep their nice design and another not be allowed to have a nice design? Don’t ask me. I still don’t understand why we ended up with particle board shelves when we specified that such shelves were not acceptable and provided evidence from the previous shelves in Math/CS.

As of the middle of last week, we were at the stage in which we knew we needed more matching chairs, but FM seemed to have no idea where to get them from. We had the option of an insufficient number of non-matching chairs, but that didn’t seem all that attractive.

On Friday, I stopped in a colleague’s lab and found four matching chairs [23]. That colleague had a mixture of chairs in the room, and had more chairs than they needed, so they were willing to give them up without a trade.

On Saturday, I was shopping at Second Mile when I saw two chairs that seemed to match the Forum Chairs that we may end up with. I bought those. If the department doesn’t need them, they can replace my old dying taks chair at home.

This seems to be one of those cases in which data multiply. There are now at least five sets of numbers (or spreadsheets) to deal with: the number of chairs planned for each room; the number I’ve noted we need in each room; the number we’ve counted in each of those rooms; the FM list of other rooms with matching chairs; and our counts of missing chairs in those rooms.

Where do we stand [24]? I’m not sure. We don’t have enough matching task chairs in our classrooms. Chemistry doesn’t have enough matching chairs. Math/Stats doesn’t have enough matching chairs. FM does not seem to have a stash of matching chairs. Jerod’s quick check of the manufacturer’s Web site suggests that they no longer make matching chairs.

Fortunately, Jerod is working on it. Unfortunately, Jerod has spent way too much time on this issue. If I recall correctly, on the day on which we did our walkthrough, he got about ten minutes of class prep done.

Thanks Jerod!

[1] Of is that A Chair problem.

[2] Hereafter, FM or FacMan [3].

[3] Not to be confused with PacMan.

[4] Last year, we sometimes ended up having to move chairs back and forth between the two rooms. This year, that won’t be possible.

[5] I’m not sure why those chairs were not recovered; some are relatively ragged.

[6] We also have a few non-recovered chairs in a faculty member’s research lab.

[7] Science 3818 is our multi-purpose, rearrangeable lab. It’s been called The Linoleum Lab [8], The Village [9], and The Clingy Lab [10], among other things.

[8] Flooring.

[9] A few students seem to live there.

[10] Titus.

[11] Third-floor stats classroom, which we will be sharing with stats this year.

[12] Formerly, The open lab. Recently, The CSC 161 classroom. Now, The CSC 161 and CSC 207 classroom.

[14] What did you choose as the logical thing?

[15] Bad idea, Jerod. Never give me permission to do these kinds of things. It will just increase your workload.

[16] I’d say that recovering fairies did the recovering, except that I remember FM staff grabbing sets chairs out of the building.

[17] Both rooms seem to have a mix of original and recovered chairs.

[18] It appears that the stash is coming from the Forum, since they are replacing chairs in the Forum.

[19] Science 1530.

[20] Well, Jerod heard.

[21] I’m pretty sure that each lab has is internally consistent, but we are not consistent between labs.

[22] I did not name them this. I am, however, tempted to write it as city chairs.

[23] Upon reflection, I see that the room was on the list we received.

[24] Or sit, as the case may be?

Version 1.0 of 2017-07-15.