May 27, 2009

Between Ten and Twenty-Nine

I rushed out of work yesterday hoping I didn't leave too late to catch the 6:44 train home. I stepped on the elevator and sighed, as I always do, when it stopped three floors below to let on another passenger. My office is on the 50th floor, so both coming and going to work sometimes takes longer than I expect.

Thankfully, the bank of elevators I take is express from the lobby to 10th floor, and then the 10th through 29th, and 29th through the 39th floors. It's really only those 11 floors between 39 and 50 that delay me because it's a rarity that the elevators stop on 10 or twenty-nine. And I long ago gave up leaving right at 5:00 p.m. It takes forever just to get to the 40th floor.

Once my fellow passenger got on, the doors closed and we began our descent past the 39th floor. I was thankful it was express from there to the lobby. I'd have to walk fast, but I'd have plenty of time to catch my train.

But then the elevator started to unsteadily slow.

And then it stopped.

And then the electronic floor indicator flashed "10". But the doors didn't open.

And then it flashed "29". But we hadn't moved.

And then it flashed "--". So I started to get a little nervous.

My fellow passenger and I looked at one another. He expressed his frustration at being stuck and kept pushing the button for the lobby, hoping that could give us momentum in one direction or another.

Nothing. It wouldn't do anything. The button wouldn't light up. Nothing registered. We just sat there in the elevator hoovering somewhere between 10 and twenty-nine.

I've heard stories of my co-workers getting stuck in the elevators. One of my fellow paralegals was once stuck between 50 and 51 for four hours - on a Sunday. It seems not a week goes by that the maintenance crew isn't working on an elevator in my firm's lobby. It's the price we pay for the penthouse view. Well that and probably the actual rental price for the penthouse view.

As I and my fellow elevator passenger hung there in the balance, I momentarily thought about free falling anywhere from 10 to 29 stories. I didn't want to go there, but that's where my brain went. Really, I reasoned, it didn't matter. The 19 floor difference wouldn't factor because the first 10 floors would be enough to do me in. I became acutely aware of the slightest sensation of movement at my feet. And then because I didn't want my fellow passenger watch me begin to freak the 'eff out, I pushed the emergency response button.

A women with a very kind-sounding voice responded immediately and asked what the problem was. I explained our lack of movement. She apologized and then worked her magic. The elevator slowly began to rise.

"You should see the doors open in a moment," she said over the intercom.

Sure enough, the elevator stopped on 41, the doors opened and I explained to the nice elevator lady that all seemed to be working just fine now, thank you. She apologized again and our elevator descended once again to the lobby. My fellow passenger and I both said we hoped we would be able to make our respective trains after this untimely delay. As he and I finally exited the elevator I wished him good luck in catching his train, but honestly what I really wanted to say was "HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS GOOD I AM SO GLAD WE'RE ON THE GROUND!" I guess making my train was good enough.

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