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.
“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?
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.