Working at that Wuhan factory, a small squad picked out the sections of the Office Computer Chair complete with Reclining Mechanism, Swivel and High Back: located the upholstered base complete with cable-operated recliner mechanism, padded backrest, cast aluminium armrests, swivel and height gas pillar mechanism: all of which had previously been manufactured to specification either within the sprawling factory, or by sub-contract; slapped them in a box together with the five castor wheels and all the screws to allow easy assembly. Then the box was taped up, marked and carried by a fork-lift truck to the tenth of that day’s containers waiting at the loading bay; and as the tired Chinese crews queued at the gate to clock off and go home, the last of the trucks; containers firmly in place, left the loading dock in Wuhan, and headed for the marine terminal at Shanghai’s YangShangGang, the busiest port in the world.
That container probably got loaded onto a Maersk Triple-E containership, locked down by a vigilant deck crew, as they prepared to leave the frantically-busy dockside; and headed down the pathway towards the open sea, turning away from the course towards Panama, as the Triple-E was too big even for the huge new Canal locks: and heading towards Singapore for a further batch of containers laden with goods bound for Europe; then the steady 22 knots towards the Arabian Peninsula, the Red Sea, Suez and then a straight path past Gibraltar, rudder to starboard as they effortlessly rode the sea miles past Portugal, into the Bay of Biscay, taking special care as they entered the Channel, the busiest waterway in Europe, and eventually slowed as they picked up the pilot who would take them towards the new docks and shiny overhead cranes of London Gateway Port set on the Thames estuary. That last container, loaded with the office chair parts, was lifted off that huge container ship, slapped onto a trailer, and driven towards a warehouse complex in Essex, where everything was unloaded from the container, marked up and listed on the computer, ready for a customer.
A 75 year-old, silver-haired, silver-bearded, and, if the truth be faced; slightly-balding ex-Engineer surveyed his old leather computer desk chair, saw the breaks in the leather-faced upholstery, checked the worn armrests, and decided that he needed ‘New’: not necessarily top line, but comfort, ease of use, and the updated term, ergonomically designed, were foremost in his mind. He had to choose from a fantastically complicated selection with hundreds of models on the website he was scrutinising, but eventually selected the ‘one’; which strangely enough had been put in that box so many miles away in that scrubby city in China. So, he input his choice on the screen, selected his credit card from the array available, and hit ‘Buy Now’: receiving an email within seconds confirming his purchase, and the advice that delivery would take place two days after purchase.
The carrier’s van duly arrived, the box was off-loaded, pulled into the living room, and the various sections were extracted and unwrapped. As the buyer had been building things all his life, he saw no difficulty in arranging everything, so proceeded to set the base firm, attaching the gas pillar and swivel in place; then bolting the seat base in place. The cast aluminium armrests were fitted in minutes; then the difficult time arrived when the backrest had to be fitted to the armrests and recline mechanism. That problem was solved by laying the whole seat on its side, and bolting the backrest to the right-hand armrest; but when the superbly-designed reclining, swivelling and height-adjustable chair was turned over to allow the other bolt to be fitted, that elderly man gazed at the threaded insert, welded to the backrest frame; which was turned thirty degrees away from the armrest hole which was supposed to hold the screw which fastened it all together!