I actually do take the stairs, sometimes. This is the North Elevator, not to be confused with the Middle Elevator, or the South Elevator. The most frequent comment… ” I could probably be downstairs and in my car in the time this takes to go one floor”. This is the definition of an elevator “a platform or compartment housed in a shaft for raising and lowering people or things to different floors or levels.” When I read this, I experience a myriad emotions which range from nostalgic to tempermental. I grew up in a six story apartment building in Queens, New York. Now, my FHB and I live in a converted loft building with five floors. Growing up, when my friends and I were bored, we would push all the buttons as we got off at our floor, just to prank anyone getting on or waiting. Now karma is having it’s sweet revenge. I used to run up and down the stairs. Now, I hold onto the railing in the stairwells for dear life because the risers seem twice as high as they were when I was ten, and I have moments when I imagine I am in a film noir, when the protagonist (that would be me) is pushed to her death by the unknown man in a dark suit. Cue creepy music.
On a lighter note, the elevator, along with the mailroom, is a gathering place. It fills a need beyond transportation. It is a place to socialize, interact and acknowledge the weather. It has also become a phone booth for many people who neither want to socialize (except with the people with whom they are speaking, in a loud booming voice), or an opportunity to learn the names of the current dog residents and acknowledge the degree of cuteness or age of the canines. I usually remember the dogs. I rarely introduce myself to the humans. In days gone by, when civility was the catalyst for meeting new people and the term “eye-contact” meant greeting someone with an expression of pleasure with a smile, one could learn of common interests or catch up on how their families were faring, or how the weather was when they came in from the street. Nowadays, not so much. There are a lot of comings and goings in a building of 250 apartments. And yet, sometimes the elevator is completely empty and it still takes quite a while for it to get to where I am waiting.
My FHB and I have a routine when we leave our apartment. One of us walks ahead to “get the elevator” and the other one (that might be me) will lock the door, walk ten steps, check for my phone, go back into the apartment, find the phone, lock the door, and race to the elevator, and my FHB, will still be waiting. About a week ago, while waiting, he turned to me and said “Do you think Martha Stewart purges because she is around food all the time and she always looks so thin”. Thankfully, the elevator door opened, and I didn’t have to respond.
When I stand alone, and wait, and wait, a lot of thoughts go through my brain. I use the time to do some mindful breathing, or try and say the alphabet backwards. I usually have the time to do that at least twice. My hands are normally full of bags, when I ascend or descend (elevator terms). The staircases are strategically placed a distance from the elevator, and although there are moments when I think to myself, that this might be a good day to walk down or up, there is happily and finally, that familiar ding, and that thought goes completely out of my head. All that remains is the realization that sometimes I anthropomorphize this box in a shaft and I say “Thanks for the ride, Otis. See you later”. That’s an elevator joke.