Wolf vs. the Universe

Posted: August 18, 2010 in Life

For once, the sun didn’t have to peek through haze before hitting the skin.  For once, you could walk an extended distance without your shirt clinging to your back, like so much Saran Wrap. ©

For once, it was a joy to walk to work, and you didn’t need to have a backup shirt sweat-free and ready to go once you got there.

Not that there was ever any complaint.  I know enough not to jinx the summer by complaining about it.  And it irks me to no end when others do.  Are they completely daft?  Have they forgotten the ugly and decidedly unsexy experience it is to have to brace yourself against the cold wind as you work to avoid frostbite on your way to the corner store?

I sure as hell haven’t.  Let me tell you.

I, for one, am grateful to our sun-god overlord and will fully embrace the heat and the sweat and the head-swimming nausea that accosts us during the melting-asphault miasma that we call summer.  I will not ever complain, and I will train my thousand-yard stare on those who do.

Still, it was pretty enjoyable to walk to work without all the humidity.

After walking into the artistic foyer with the ceilings that vault off into space, I took the usual path to the escalators.  The ones that lead to the elevators, which in turn drop their passengers at their designated floors, with a cheery robot female voice that informs you that you’re “going up – DING”.  As if there was any other option, when you start from the ground floor.

This time, it was just me on the elevator.  I pressed the button for the seventh floor, and as always, it lit up in red immediately.

I let go of the button, and it turned off right away.

I pressed it again, and it lit up.  I let go and it turned off.

In the meantime, the elevator door shut.

So I pressed the “Open Door” button.


I pressed it again – thereby exhibiting the fact that I am indeed insane.  You know how that works, right?  If you keep repeating an action hoping for a different response, you’re supposed to be insane.  Of course I only repeated it once, so maybe I’m only half-mad.

Then, my insides turned to jelly.  I wasn’t sure why, until I hesitated, and listened.  There it was.  No sound.   Up until that point, there was always a background sound.  You get used to this white noise and you are largely unaware of it.  Until it’s not there anymore.

What I heard was the sound of the systems that support the elevator – including air conditioning, I think – shutting down.

I pressed the “Open Door” button a few more times – thereby removing all doubt about my sanity.   Although panic serves as a good excuse, doesn’t it?

I pressed the telephone button.  The one that’s supposed to allow you to call someone in case of an emergency.   No response.  No ringing sound, no “hello, may I help you?”.


I thought then about yelling and banging on the door, but wasn’t sure anyone would hear me.

“Well doesn’t this just suck” I said out loud to myself.

“Yeah, it kind of does” I answered.

“Who are you talking to?” I asked.

“Who wants to know?” I answered back, with a slight sneer.

“Shut up”

“No.  YOU shut up”

And then I saw it.

Another button not yet pressed.  This one actually had the word “help” on it.    Go figure.

I pressed it.

“This is security.  How can I help you?”

“I’m stuck on the elevator and none of the buttons work.  I can’t open the door.”

“Give me a couple of minutes.  I’ll get it open for you.”

Thank God.  I don’t know what I was worried about, really.   I was on the ground floor, and, as another security guard mentioned afterwards, if the elevator fell, it would only have gone two feet.  Kind of like splashing around and panicking in a pool that’s only two feet deep.  “Stand up, fool”

Still, the idea of being in an enclosed space that you can’t get out of hits you on a visceral level.  You panic, probably because you’re programmed to.  It represents a loss of control.  You’re entirely at the mercy of technology.   Not unlike that time when you had too much to eat and were lounging in your lazy boy chair, and there was that awful Jerry Springer show playing on TV, and your remote wasn’t working because the battery was dead, and you were too lazy to get out of the chair and change it manually.

Well, maybe it’s not like that.

The elevator bumped up and down a bit, and there was the sound of various systems starting up.  Finally the door opened and I escaped.

I told a few people about it, and they looked at me like I was nuts.
“How long were you in the elevator?”

“Must have been fifteen minutes.”  (But now that I think about it, it was probably no more than five)

“And you were scared.”

“No.  I was concerned.”
(Yeah.  It means the same thing.  I had a girlfriend once who was never ever angry, even when I forgot to pick her up after work.  “I’m NOT angry.  I”m frustrated”)

(She was angry)

(We split up)

(That got her angry too.  Go figure.)

Was the universe done with me?

Not quite.

Got home last night.  Got out of my clothes, and hung them.  Went for a shower.

Came back to the bedroom and, um, well, wouldn’t you know it?

The closet doors – both of them – were fused shut.  I know this because I tried to open one, and broke the handle off.  And then I tried to open the other.  And broke the handle on that one too.

Traipsed out to the kitchen to find a hammer in one of the kitchen drawers.  (What?  I keep some of my tools in the kitchen drawers.  Don’t all bachelors do this?)

Came back and tried to pry the doors open from the bottom.  Heard a big “scrrruuunch”, as the prongs of the hammer tore away at the wood at the bottom of the door, but do you think that sucker would open?  Not a budge.  Not even a hint of a budge.

Lots of squeaking and grinding though.   Like mice on steroids.

Had to call the super this morning (after digging through the hamper to find some truly heinous and smelly clothes to wear.  Didn’t want to answer the door naked.  All that awkardness would be annoying).  He got the doors open.  “Don’t shut them though” he warned. “Not until winter.”

I nodded and thanked him.

The good news is that I’ve stopped talking to myself out loud.

Now I’m sending myself emails.

  1. Just Me says:

    Does that mean that the entire extent of fixing your doors was to open them for you??? I mean, “don’t shut them until winter” doesn’t exactly scream working, or for that matter going to be working anytime soon now does it, haha. I love when someone fixes something…..but, it will only work if you don’t use it! Priceless.

    I’ve never been stuck in an elevator so I’m no expert but, at least it wasn’t packed with people…..in the summer……with the A/C off…..right? I mean, you had that going for you, hahaha.


    • You got it. All he did was open them back up. Well, he re-attached the door knobs too – not that it matters, if you can’t close the doors.

      And people wonder why I’m looking for a new apartment.

      Being alone in the elevator also meant not having my frightened girly-face on display for anyone else to see. Double bonus.


  2. redriverpak says:

    Thanks! My Claustrophobia just came screaming back to me!


  3. momma fargo says:

    Oh my! At least you didn’t have to run up the stairs and be without your spair sweat-free shirt!


  4. carmenlezeth says:

    I’m laughing — cuz I keep my tools in the kitchen drawer too. Ha!

    So, believe it or not, I have quite a few negative “isms”… I know, it’s hard to believe, but I do. I hope it doesn’t spoil your image of me, but I feel like I need to admit it now — I HATE elevators and avoid them as much as possible. I would rather WALK up 15 flights of stairs (I’ve been known to, by the way) than ride in an elevator. It’s crazy, but I have a huge fear of enclosed spaces — yeah, claustrophobia for sure, but most things I can breathe through and get by — but elevators? Nope. HATE them! So, trust me, I can totally relate to this post BIG TIME!

    The closet though seems strange… but.. uhm, yeah, looks like the Universe was playing with you just a bit… I’m just glad you’re iPad didn’t save the day somehow, cuz, seriously, I might have had to go buy one if that were the case…




    • carmenlezeth says:

      PS. When I say “tools” I should be clear and say a hammer. Uhm, a tool. I keep a tool in the kitchen.


      • Too late. My image of you is blown away. You keep a tool in your kitchen. *grin*

        When I had my family over, my brother had to go into the kitchen for something. I heard him laughing and so went out to see what was going on. He had the hammer in his hand, and was grinning from ear to ear. “Typical bachelor” he said. “Guess you don’t have a toolbox, huh?”

        I do. But that’s not the point.


    • You’re allowed to hate elevators. I didn’t think I had any problem with them – until I got stuck in one. So as of Monday, August 16 – I don’t like elevators.

      (Although I don’t hate them enough to want to walk up 15 flights of stairs.)

      The iPad didn’t come to the rescue Carmen. But buy one anyway. You’ll be glad you did. :)


  5. deb says:

    Hey…..did that girlfriend yell at you when you split? Did you yell? Those are my questions. Fuck the elevator part. B’cuz some of us are zen…and others…not so much. I haven’t figured out where you stand just yet.


  6. Abe's Blog says:

    Yo. I think there is a force in the cosmos which decrees that certain periods of time should be set apart for the infliction of hilarious bits of mischief upon the humans. These last few days have been that way for me. My laptop crashed a couple of days ago, and I found out it crashed a few months too late for the free fix (the problem was known by the manufacturer…grrr) and today my transfer case went out in my truck stranding me 3 hours from home.

    Now I am chilling on a beach at night on the Pacific Coast, drinking a Long Neck, sitting by a fire, and thumbing my nose at those spiteful powers. Let us be, I say. Let us be!


    • Maybe the universe is just trying to tell us something, Abe. Broken elevator at work – get back to working on my book, so that I don’t have to go to work anymore. Broken closet – time to move (I’m planning on it anyway).

      In your case, broken laptop – time to get a new one, and this time switch to a Macbook Pro. Broken truck…..ah, you’ve got me there.

      That last picture you paint though is compelling, and I find myself a little envious. :)


  7. I get tired of hearing about people complain about the weather. Hello. Don’t they remember the 7 months of incessant rain we get every year? Aren’t they GRATEFUL for these blessedly hot, gorgeous days? When it goes from 100 degrees to 70 degrees, I’m happy. Variety. Cool. When it sprinkles, I’m good with that too, more variety. But some people just bitch and bitch and bitch all summer long and then as soon as the rain moves in…. THEY BITCH SOME MORE. Seriously don’t get it.

    We rented a beach house once where none of the doors would close because of moisture, including the bathroom door – OH, and you can to open the cupboard under the sink to have a place to put your knees if you wanted to actually sit on the toilet. lol It was terribly funny as a short term rental but I wouldn’t want to live there.

    The elevator thing… almost as bad as WalMart on a Saturday. ALMOST.


    • Thank God you put the word “almost” in there, and repeated it. ‘Cause NOTHING is as bad as Walmart on a Saturday. (Or, in my experience, any other days of the week. Which is why I think I visited it once only last year, and not at all this year.)

      When someone complains about there being too much sun, or that it’s too hot out, it’s all I can do not to reach out and shake some sense into them. We don’t get rain in the winter time. We get bone-chilling cold. The kind of cold that causes body parts to fall off. The kind of cold that causes polar bears to shiver and say “damn that’s cold”.

      And I’m the king of complainers then.


  8. MousE says:

    I hate getting stuck in elevators. Especially at work in the freight elevators. Two years ago I was doing props for the symphony, and during setup I ran some empty cases up to the fourth floor. The creaky, old freight elevator ground to a halt between floors. I used the key to turn it off then on several times, held my breath, counted to 10, and tried again. It worked. Whoosh.

    I came back down, exited the damned thing, and reported to my stage carpenter: “I got stuck in the elevator.”

    “No, you didn’t,” he said.

    “I’m telling you, I got stuck in the elevator. You might want to get it checked before tonight’s concert,” I said.

    “No, you didn’t,” he said, sneering.

    I threw my hands up in the air and went back to work.

    That night at intermission, one of the musicians… who had a solo in the second half… got stuck in the elevator between floors. It’s called an entrapment, apparently. I walked up to the stage carpenter, who was feverishly working the phone and trying to appease the stage manager and conductor, and said to him,

    “Do you believe me NOW?”

    At least there was lots of air in that thing. I’d totally panic in one of those new, hermetically sealed ones. Yikes.

    “Like mice on steroids.”



    • I LOVE when that happens! When you warn someone about something, and despite your repeated warning, they ignore you, before falling flat on their face.

      At work we often get into inter-disciplinary squabbles, where our group’s expertise gets called into question. I’ve gotten to the point now where I refuse to argue anymore. Failure is it’s own lesson – and reward. As long as our due diligence is noted and recorded, everything’s golden.

      There’s such less stress that way too.


  9. contoveros says:

    “. . .thousand-yard stare . . .”

    I’m still wondering about this distance, never mind the two-footfdrop of the elevator or the broken closet door.

    That is one long stare, I mean to tell you!

    michael j


    • It’s also a cold stare. The coldest. It’s a stare with weight to it, and therefore not easily ignored.

      If you’re the one administering it, it’s a fun stare. It gets people motivated and caring, if only so you’ll stop doing it. *grin*


  10. Dave says:

    You’ve brought back some very fond memories of walking to work in TO during the summer. I was living at the Gladstone and each morning traipsed down Queen St. to the old house being reconstructed opposite Trinity Park ?, I think it was. Fresh air, the smell of ozone. It was wonderful. Summer here is brutal. Oppressive heat and the feeling of being an unpaid extra in a never-ending Clint Eastwood movie. I can’t wait for winter. Tossing a football about on Xmas Day in shorts and a t-shirt.
    “Born to Complain” suits me just fine as a moniker but I don’t think it works well when loitering about someone else’s site. . Whadya think? :-)


    • Probably not. :)

      There’s got to be a happy medium somewhere, when it comes to weather. There has to be some place in the world where the summer isn’t brutal, where you can walk around in short sleeves all the time, all year long.

      Maybe L.A.?


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