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Tool: Anti-Fatigue Mat, $20.25

Tool: Anti-Fatigue Mat, $20.25

Ben Marcus
12 Snaps

I’ll admit that when I first set foot on the anti-fatigue mat, I was already somewhat tired. The makers of the mat no doubt prefer a fully-rested customer mounting their product. I was not fully or even partially rested, and cannot recall a time when I have been. It was late at night and I had stacked firewood all day. My feet felt like socks filled with pennies. It seemed appropriate, then, to rejuvenate them with the anti-fatigue mat, to climb aboard the feltish rectangle and seek restoration upon it. A father deserves such a product. I had high hopes, and for the occasion I had put on my new action-wear pajama bottoms, with the left leg rolled up to just below my knee, showing off the six-digit university scar I earned during my academic fortnight in England. But like many people, I was worried about my children. Would they be suddenly killed? Would they have their faces destroyed? I had therefore kept the mat hidden in the closet since receiving it that morning from labsafety.com. If any of my children crawled over the mat, even by accident, and the time was near to their bedtime, then I would have a tweaking youngster on my hands, one who might go the whole night without sleep, grinding his gums like a crack addict. An anti-fatigue mat should not be used on very young children, particularly those who refer to themselves as Captain Larry. So when the youth had been safely installed in their masonry berm, and the smoke machine had been turned down outside our house, where the electric company had been working more or less covertly all summer, I spread out the mat in the living room and commenced to stand upon it, ringing my supper bell to announce that a new product was being tested in our home.

Anti-fatigue mats are used throughout the manufacturing industry to improve the circulation of the men and women who work in fixed stances (employees referred to as Rockems). It is no secret that it’s more tiring to stand in one place than to move.The softer the mat, the more a kind of motion can be encouraged in a rooted leg. Even with a parking boot (a foot that does not move), an undulation becomes possible as the rubber is depressed by shifts of weight, rotating the ball socket of the person’s hip, generating circulation, and thereby refreshing the limb. I, like the other fathers on my block, desire this refreshed limb. We dream of a surface that will replenish us as we tread upon it. We would like to gain energy as we move or pose throughout the world, rather than lose it and turn into collapsing, sacklike figures who cannot control the people around us. Although we have very little money, we have ordered hallways worth of anti-fatigue mats with names like the Ergo-Stance #489, and we have created a carpeted linkworks from our houses to the local store and to the town processing station. At a recent civic-affairs meeting, a proposal was vetted to matten the nanny path that leads down to Parson’s Hole, although we were deadlocked when it came to tread texture. If our town can eventually be fully carpeted with an anti-fatigue surface, we will achieve new performance levels, and our very youngest citizens will never have to set foot upon the canvasses of exhaustion that host their colleagues from other areas.

Back at home, I reached the third hour atop the Weldsafe #447 before collapsing, a bitter-tasting nosebleed heating my face. Tomorrow I’ll test my endurance without the mat, but I will certainly be asleep within minutes. Even though the facial injury took me out of play, I was surprisingly rested, even energized, and several new facial gestures became available to me, which I quickly deployed to the room at large. I felt a high-level potency in my chest. The lights were all out up and down my street. Those men were sleeping their lives away. They had opted against vigilance, and their punishment was awaiting. My house was still blazing, lit from within. Indeed, my house felt lit from within my very own body, which glowed with a new, fresh power. I had things to say, but there was no one there to hear me. I wiped off my face, got back on the mat, and said them anyway.

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