Dear Herman Miller:

I am writing to ask if you would please send me one of your Embody chairs. For free.

Before I proceed, I want to assure you that I realize that the Embody chair is a work of high art and should not be granted to just anybody. With a price tag of $1100-$1600 there can be no question in anyone’s mind that Bill Stumpf’s last design was created for a distinct class of the seated elite. That Backfit frame that adjusts so perfectly to the Pixel-Matrix Support pads could only have been hatched by an ergonomic genius. And with seven different possible adjustments, every conceivable curve and contour of the back is cradled by attentive efficiency, leaving only the soul jonesing for more and left to cry out for the fulfillment of productivity. Well worth the money…I don’t have.

With the success of the uber-popular Aeron chair hatched in the 90s, you have by now no doubt had hundreds of thousands of clients at Herman Miller. I read recently that the Aeron chair itself boasts over 50,000 clients. The fact alone that you can refer to one who sits in a Herman Miller chair as a “client” speaks volumes – as if the person is being served by an accountant or possibly a psychologist. I imagine that a client of the Embody chair doesn’t even need a psychologist, as the chair itself is a psychologist. Have studies been done on this? Do clients of the Embody chair need less psychological help? Does the Embody chair pay for itself in a matter of only a few spared sessions of therapy?

I realize that I am asking for a lot. I am not a particularly lucky person or habitual prizewinner, nor am I accustomed to receiving free things, unless you count coffee or socks. Perhaps you do not care to know about such things, but I do feel it is important to be honest with you if we are going to start off on the right foot. The socks were from an over-zealous store clerk who then wanted, in exchange, my phone number. He was clearly a college boy who did not realize that I was at least 10 years his senior and, by the way, married. His mistake was giving me the socks first and then asking for my number. By the time I set him right it was too late to ask for the socks back. He was brave through his inflamed acne-scarred cheeks and even stammered that, if I wanted, we could still go get coffee (his treat) after he got off work “as friends”. The socks were of the water-wicking wool variety. And comfortable.

At any rate, I do not frequently come across free things nor am I a woman of means. I am a writer, as well as a struggling entrepreneur. When I’m not blogging about what it was like to grow up so religious that I wasn’t even allowed to use a Speak N’ Spell because it contained the word “spell” and talked like the devil, I help run a rural ISP in the mountains west of Boulder from a bulky mess of a chair I purchased over 12 years ago from Office Max. Even as I sit here now, the chair wheezes and swivels habitually to the left toward my bookcase whereupon I am subject repeatedly to the temptation of literary escapism. That I can finish this letter at all in the face of such partisanship is a small miracle.

Even so, in 2008 – in the face of distraction from my left leaning chair – I co-founded a web-based social lending company, which ended up being named as one of Colorado’s most innovative companies in the same year. This was fantastic and would have been upgraded to positively thrilling had we actually been funded as a result of the honor. Unfortunately, I and my co-founders needed to eat so the company is currently treading water. I am not saying that possession of a Herman Miller Embody Chair, or possibly an extra in carbon balance fabric with an aluminum base on a graphite frame for one of my co-founders, would help the company get back in the race, but I am not saying the opposite would be true, either.

Of course, I would never ask for something for nothing, Herman Miller, and I realize that with a free Embody chair would come grave responsibility. I assure you, I am an avid user of several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and would vow to regularly broadcast praises about the Embody chair while simultaneously typing from the comfort of one. Also, I would commit to end every blog post on TheNervousBreakdown.com and elsewhere with the tag, “This post was written from the blissful comfort of a Herman Miller Embody Chair and is certifiably 100% ergonomically correct.” In addition, my memoir about growing up Evangelical is due out from Emergency Press within the next 12 months, in which I will also happily make an endorsement of comfort.

Herman (may I call you Herman?), I realize it is not your policy to send out a free chair(s) to every person who asks for one (or two). In this case, however, I would like to offer that this could be a mutually beneficial exchange with potential for a lasting and, dare I say, passionate relationship. In other words, I will happily play Anaïs Nin to your Henry, er, Herman Miller.

If you will have me, that is.


Warmly (Not to be confused with the warmth that comes from constantly overcorrecting to the right),

– Erika Rae



PS – Should you decide me a worthy recipient, I will gladly cover shipping charges. Please email me at erae [at] thenervousbreakdown [dot] com or find shipping instructions in a subsequent post entitled, “Dear FedEx”.



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ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, a humor memoir about growing up Evangelical (Emergency Press, December, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Lit­er­a­ture and Lin­guis­tics from the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bath­room is in Can­tonese, although it is likely that she will not under­stand the answer. In her dream world, she fan­cies her­self a kung fu mas­ter clev­erly dis­guised as a gen­tle moun­tain dweller, eagerly antic­i­pat­ing dan­ger at the bot­tom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she runs an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies.

70 responses to “Dear Herman Miller”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    Ha! Good work, college kid. Way to abuse your position, and way to shoot for the moon.

  2. Herman would be a fool to pass up this offer. I hope one day I can own a chair that is a psychologist and put all my issues behind me.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Just think of how much better we would all be at writing if we were freed from the complaints of “the vessel”. Our minds would then be adequately soothed so that we could soar, Nathaniel. Enlightenment is surely within our grasp – from a seated position.

  3. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Dear Herman Miller, Please send an Embody chair to this lovely writer. She will make the world a better place in your comfort and style. And of course give you copious props and free publicity, as she has begun to here.

    I invested in an Aeron a few years ago, figuring I’d never need another office chair as long as I lived. So far…..bliss…. Although in retrospect, I might have chosen an A instead of a B, but that’s mere quibbling. We have other Herman Miller furniture, some of it given to us by the orignial owner-builders of our house. (The house is mid-century. International style.)

    May they honor your request!

    • Erika Rae says:

      Thank you, dear Ronlyn. You have addressed one of the biggest arguments for getting the Embody rather than the Aeron – it comes in only one size and then adjusts to fit. How could it possibly go wrong? Your house sounds lovely and I must confess a bit of envy with the knowledge you have other Herman Miller furniture within. (My God woman! You must live in a sacred museum!) Also, I now have better insight into why you are such a fantastic and generous person.

      • Ronlyn Domingue says:

        Confession. My partner is responsible for my awareness of finer things such as this. He became enamored with the Eames chair 10-12 years ago. Next came the search and acquistion of a mid-century house. Since then, he’s E-bayed, estate saled, and urban foraged treasures for our abode. It’s sort of like living in a time warp. Ha.

  4. J. Ryan Stradal says:

    Always get the moisture-wicking socks before flashing the ring. He didn’t notice? Well, he’s a college kid.

    When it arrives, let me know how it is. Even if you have to bite the bullet on the full price, the “office furniture” tax-write off is better than one more day in your partisan chair.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I am one of these maddening female types who does not always wear my ring due to skin irritation. (I know I know) I am considering getting a tattoo for off days. And I wish I could bite the bullet and pay full price – but that assumes I have teeth…or a bullet…what were we talking about again? Oh yes, I can’t afford one. Truly. Damn the whole business start-up model!!!!!

  5. Tawni Freeland says:

    Hahahahaha. I love this letter, Erika. And I truly believe that Herman Miller is going to reward you for your eloquent chair-apy request with an Embody. I do.

    Also: best tags ever. (:

  6. Slade Ham says:

    Sometimes people make me mad that I didn’t come up with an idea first. You are one of those people right now. I almost want to buy you the chair… Promise I can sit in it when I visit? I’ll kick off my snowshoes first and everything.

    And the Dear FedEx line. HA!

    • Erika Rae says:

      What do you need another chair for? You already have one.

      • Slade Ham says:

        No…. I have a pedestal. Totally different 😉

        • Erika Rae says:

          Is that what you and Richrob were fighting over at your place? A pedestal? Heh. (Where’s Megan? Where’s Megan?)

          Slade, I promise if I score a Herman Miller Embody chair, you may sit exclusively in that for your entire visit (snowshoe rule applies, of course).

          Also, what would it take to make you remove the “almost” from your assertion above?

        • Slade Ham says:

          We did have to pass the chair around. I remained on the pedestal the whole time, even when I had to sit on my knees at my own house for an entire Skype conversation. Richrob is a chair thief, for sure. Still, it makes a great case for why I need an EXTRA chair.

          And I’ll remove the “almost” happily. I want to buy you the chair.

          I won’t, but I want to.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Good enough for me.

          I can’t believe Richrob made you kneel for an entire conversation in your own home. And here we got candles…

        • Richard Cox says:

          Don’t start with the kneeling jokes. And besides, I was the guest!

          Wait. Um…


        • Erika Rae says:

          That’s so many shades of wrong I don’t even know where to start.

  7. Why don’t you ask for a rocket ship while you’re at it. The end is near anyway (Read it on a website).

    You’re silly, Erika. Silly silly.

    This piece reminds me that I am always uncomfortable. :/

  8. Erika Rae says:

    I’ve heard that about the end coming and all. Talk about uncomfortable. Well, I suppose there’s no better time to get an Embody chair then…

  9. Summer Block says:

    I’m pulling for you here, Erika! I’m also really hoping this works because I’m moving soon and could use some new furniture…

  10. jmblaine says:

    Doesn’t Target
    make a version of

    for like
    40 bucks?

    • Erika Rae says:

      Target also
      prints of
      the Mona Lisa

    • Joe Daly says:

      While the chair
      itself might retail
      for like 40 bucks, the
      price of buying
      it at


      would be much
      higher, as it is
      nearly impossible to enter and leave Target with only the one item you intended on purchasing.

      That chair would also
      cost you a gang of
      reasonably priced shampoo,
      some scented reed oil
      a few ironic t-shirts,
      some Mossimo cargo pants,
      a candy bar,
      light bulbs, some towels
      and a couple packages
      of Hanes t-shirts.

      That is, if Erika
      shops like
      I do.

      • pixy says:


        what is with
        this stock-up sale?
        is it new?

        i left target with
        lotion for a lifetime.
        for 8 dollars.

        • Lorna says:

          I am never able to escape Taget for less than a C note. It’s a magical money sucker, that place. Yet I always seem to leave smiling.

      • Erika Rae says:

        you can buy
        Mossimo cargo pants,
        scented reed oil diffusers
        pocorn or pizza
        Tampax, Q-tips, Kleenex and
        a Swatch
        is my kind
        of place.

        But the cost of buying
        so much
        in the face of
        intentions is
        Receiving a chair
        from Herman Miller
        without being tempted by
        new pink camo slippers…

  11. Quenby Moone says:

    Free socks? That I should be so lucky! I love dear, sweet, earnest digit-asking fools. But free socks, wow. He must have seen an angel!

    I too am curious to see whether or not Herman gets back to you; to date, no Mythbuster has yet offered to tutor my son in the pyrotechnic arts, but letters on the internet are forever so fingers crossed!

    I believe that you shall receive this chair. Herman-ry will look to his Anais, and smile.

    • Erika Rae says:

      OK, OK – full confession. He may have sort of forgotten to ring them up. Then, when he realized, he kind of just shrugged, smiled, and segued. It’s not like he said, “Wait here, my pet,” before disappearing and reemerging from footwear. I’m the one who got them to the counter. Still free.

      Herman-ry. Heh.

  12. Joe Daly says:

    When the chair arrives (and I know it will), where will you put it? One thing I’m thinking, and this is just off the top of my head- you know, fish bowling some thoughts, is that when you’re not sitting on it, you could perhaps rent time on it to pet photographers. I mean, what cat or dog owner would not put up reasonable bank for the privilege of snapping a photo or two of their domestic game in a chair of such ergonomic and aesthetic aplomb? Not only would the chair itself be made available to you at no cost, but you could generate further revenue by letting the four legged population capture their own moments of distinction in your chair. Herman Miller wins exponentially, as word gets out among the discretionary spending-prone pet owning set that his chairs are most beloved by cherished pets. It is a win win for all parties- Herman, you, the pets, and the pet owners.

    Just throwing that out there.

    Oh, and when I get to Colorado, I would like to sit in this chair whilst enjoying one of your homemade donuts. Could that be arranged?

    Thank you in advance for your most bitchin’ article, and for your prompt attention to this matter.

    J. Patrick Daly, Esquire

    • Erika Rae says:

      Joe, I admire your entrepreneurial mindset. I had not even given a thought to actually making money on a free Herman Miller Embody chair, but I can see it now. Weimeraners, Burmese Mountain Dogs, Dachshunds lined up down the length of my 4-wheel-drive driveway for the privilege of getting snapped in the chair. Just thinking out loud here, but we could throw in a pet psychology session for a little extra. What’s more, we wouldn’t even have to have a pet psychologist on hand as the chair would dually function as such. (No need to tell the owners, of course. The pets will know. The tingling will let them know it’s working.) In between sessions, you can sit in the chair and chow on homemade donuts while making new music recommendations. By the end of our whirlwind frenzy, we won’t even care that the chair is covered in pet hair and donut glaze, so sated we shall be on our capitalistic power.




  13. I totally should have reached farther than Ikea… you go for it… may Herman hear you and grant you that chair!

  14. Lorna says:

    Geez, I hope Herman Miller gives you the chair(s). After reading this, I want to buy it for you. Hey, you don’t happen to have 15-20 more Jesus Pumpkins you could sell on eBay, do you? Come on Herman Miller we’re counting on you.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Jesus Pumpkin is alive and well after a family member bid against his would-be owner and returned him to me. He now sits fresh as ever on my dresser. Jesus Pumpkin shall never shrivel. He shall, however, come again one day. To eBay.

      There is only one Jesus Pumpkin.

  15. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Whoa! I had no idea there was this broad market in modern ergothrones. I just checked out their Web site. I thought to myself “wow, all this swishness about a chair!” But if anyone deserves a swish chair, you do. Free socks are a start, but the awesome should inherit much more.

    If you don’t give the lady the chair, see? I’ll spill the beans about Jimmy Hoffa. Oh, er wait! That’s Herbert Miller 🙂

    • Erika Rae says:

      Uche, please tell me you just coined the term “ergothrone.” That has to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.

      And, as you will see, it appears Herman has heard your plea and has responded below. He’s a capital fellow.

  16. Zara says:

    For goodness sake, Herman – give her the bloody chair!

    Anyone who can write a funny, poignant, charming letter such as this, deserves to be fitted out in awesome chairs for the rest of her life.

    E-Dogg -you are the bomb. I hope you get a lovely chair for your lovely bottom asap.

    (oh and I loved the Wesley Payne tag! This should be obligatory from now on in all posts!)

  17. Hahaha.

    No, you cannot call him Herman. Even I know that.

    Oh my god, I am so totally the Seated Elite. I need to be taken down an Aeron peg immediately. Even though I got my knock off at Staples for what seemed to be an amazingly reasonable price.

    One day your chair will come, Erika. Of that I have no doubt.

    • Erika Rae says:

      Now I’m flitting around the house like a Disney character (can it, JMB) singing, “Some day my chair will come.” And you’re right about calling him “Herman”, apparently. He appears to prefer to be called “Uncle Herman” (see below).

    • Erika Rae says:

      Also, I now understand why you have so many books published, oh you of the Seated Elite.

  18. Judy Prince says:

    I can tell you’re the bomb, ER, bcuz you get the coolest comments and make the coolest comments on them!

    Your bum deserves not the Merman chair but Merman himself. [I’m trying to work that logic out, but fooey]

    I totally loved your riffing on your left-leaning chair, starting here:

    ” . . . the chair wheezes and swivels habitually to the left toward my bookcase whereupon I am subject repeatedly to the temptation of literary escapism.”

    You’ve done *such* a service to writers—–not bcuz you’re throwing yourself at Merman just for his um chair, but bcuz you’ve spotlit for us the awake third of our lives. You’ve chair-apized us (awesome, Tawni!) about the fountain of our creativity: our chairs! [Or p’raps our bums…..I’m unsure which] In short, if we’re spending countless hours in left-leaners, squeakers, roamers, sprung-springed, flimsy, armless, back-cracking chairs……..how can we expect to create anything but similar works?

    [SAD NOTE: From wet-wicking wool sox to a Merman——oh, Erika Rae, I fear for your non-contrite soul!]

    • Erika Rae says:

      …And your comments, Judy Princess, are amongst the coolest of them all! Scott read yours out loud to me, chuckling all the way.

      And you’re right – my poor, unapologetic soul needs a chair to match! Think of how unleashed we would all become with the freeing of lower lumbar pain caused by those bourgeois chairs we all have tucked away behind college apartment grade desks. It’s time we the literary elite free ourselves from our perception of mere proletariat bums and treat them with dignity. Rise up! Rise up oh bums of the masses! Together we can make it happen. A new moon shall rise!

      • Judy Prince says:

        “A new moon shall rise!” HONK!

        [BTW, Erika Rae, keep this quiet…..but who *really* is Uncle Herman? A stalker? A chair-itable bloke bent on chairs (so to speak)? A hawker of chair wares from the back of his formerly impounded SUV? I guess anyone can get a Gravatar these days.]

  19. Uncle Herman says:

    I start with an exhale and moment of pause.

    Hello gentle commenters, and commentators.

    Hello from the innards of Herman Miller. Yes, this post has made it through the tentacles of the net (I’m bringing back that term) and in front of the face of a bona-fide member but completely unsanctioned spokesperson of the Herman Miller family. Insert high fives and celebratory jigs for the magic of the net (that’s twice now). Granted, E-Rae and I go back ten years and she posted the link on my facebook wall, but here we are just the same.

    You’ve done well with your selection of Embody, wise one. She’s a fantastic chair, with pixels and a seat that meld to your spine and a swivel that spins with no more sound than the swoosh of wind in your hair.



    I can see you spinning in it now.

    Call me.

    ps. I really wanted to say ‘net me’ but thought I might be pushing it too much. I recently bought a pair of Reeboks, so maybe bringing back the whole ‘net’ thing is too much throwback to ask for in a month.

  20. Erika Rae says:

    Uncle Herman.

    First let me say that I am beyond flattered that I have received word from directly within the heart of your fine establishment. What does it smell like in there? Cedar? Earl Grey? Drakkar Noir? Or maybe nothing at all. Because having an odor would be a distraction. After all, you don’t sell furniture, really. You sell productivity. The pixels, the mesh, the graphite frame with noiseless bearings…simply a road to an end. A means by which one can suspend all physical concern for the purpose of the blossoming of the mind. The birth of that most powerful muse of all: creativity. This is what the Herman Miller Embody Chair…embodies.

    Herman, I have no doubt that as the world’s most eligible bachelor, your black book entries make James Bond look like a common 2A football team captain, but I assure you I am no common debutante. With an Embody chair, I firmly intend to take my small social lending company out of the uncertain shallows and into a realm where the likes of family do-gooders, casual moochers and, yes, even Richard Branson are challenged. All along the way, I shall turn to you my dear Herman, swiveling to you noiselessly as only one in an Embody chair can. As Anais Nin points out in The Delta of Venus, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” so it is with great boldness that I ask of you now. Please, Herman. Send me an Embody chair – nay, send me a lifetime of productivity.


  21. Richard Cox says:

    I like that your new genre is to write letters with hope of payment in money and/or chairs. I wish you all success in your endeavors, Rollergirl.

    Sorry for being a post-skipper. I learned from the best.

  22. Gloria says:

    I’ve held off reading/commenting for a couple of days to see how this all shakes down.

    So, did you get the chair?

    • Erika Rae says:

      *snort* Perhaps someday, but in the meantime I shall be saving my pennies in a very large mason jar (kettle drum?). She will be mine – oh yes! – she will be mine.

  23. Dana says:

    Erika!! Did this work? Is Uncle Herman REALLY gonna get you one of those special chairs? I only know of the famous Herman Miller chairs because I listen to NPR, and they’re constantly supporting one show or another. But you made me clicky clicky and now I see the appeal. As I’ve been looking and lobbying for a desk that I can stand at (I inevitably hate every office chair I’ve ever sat upon after about 6 months) I am now coveting this amazing creation.

    I’m picturing a full on TNB sponsorship or joint cooperative here. In exchange for (glowing) reviews of their chair, they agree to provide all 500 contributors with a Herman Miller of their very own. Heck, maybe even avid readers and commentators could get in on the action.

    • Erika Rae says:

      They should think of me as a cyclist gathering corporate sponsors. They help me get my business off the ground, and I give them a lifetime of props. I’m even thinking of having one of those spandex wind break shirts made with a giant Herman Miller logo across the chest. Really, I think this is an exciting business model.

  24. Irene Zion says:

    I’m positive that there is one in the mail as we speak, Erika Rae.
    Who could turn you down?

  25. I once went to the Henry Miller library. The chairs were not nice. Well, once they might have been nice, I suppose, but they were outside and it had been raining.

  26. Greg Olear says:

    If they make someone chair of a department, said chair should be one of these babies.

    Lately I’ve been sitting at a hard-backed kitchen chair on a big folding table from Lowe’s. I could use one of these myself…

  27. Matt says:


    And here I was about to drop a measly $150 or so on a simple, handmade wooden chair. But now I totally want the space-age ergothrone. That thing looks like it could achieve liftoff and low orbit all by itself.

    Maybe four of us should go in for a time-share deal, wherein we split the cost and each get use of it for three months of the year. Whaddya think?

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