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For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Elevator Drama

Shortly before 10 PM, I entered the West Tower elevator. As the door started to close, three guys and a young lady in evening wear rushed into the lobby. I pushed the “Open” button and waited for them to pile in. I noticed the young lady entered last and what little color her skin had faded to nothing under the harsh fluorescent light.

The door closed. I pushed 10 and one of the guys asked me to push 11. For a few seconds, the elevator pondered whether the trip was worth making or not. The guys were looking at me; I was looking at the young lady, who seemed more statue than human.

Taking in my jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers versus their full evening attire, one of the guys asked me “Don’t you feel under-dressed?”

“Don’t you feel over-dressed?” I replied and the elevator jolted upward.

It isn’t often that you see emotional extremes; raw, naked expressions of a person’s deepest feelings. The young lady in that elevator was terrified. Her body was stone, her hands white-knuckled clamps on a tiny purse twisted horribly out of shape. Her eyes were frozen wide, unblinking, unseeing, incapable of looking at anything except the polished metal door. She was barely breathing. We were passing the fourth floor.

I looked at the guys and none were paying her any attention. I opened my mouth to say something, but what was there to say? They either knew and didn’t care, or didn’t know and pointing out what was happening could be humiliating to her. At least she was holding herself together, though in so brittle a fashion that I felt she would shatter if I touched her.

She glanced up. Seventh floor. Cords on her neck were straining for escape. I fought down the urge to slap 8 and help her out. That wouldn’t help. I forced myself to accept that.

Finally, the 10 above the door lit up and the elevator grumbled to a halt. The doors opened, I stepped out and turned to watch as the doors closed. I stared openly at the young lady, both our mouths compressed into thin lines. Just before the doors closed, her eyes found mine and with the barest motion, she shook her head.

The door closed. I barely breathed, stock-still as a painting. I waited until the elevator reached 11, stayed there for a few minutes, then made the long trip down to 1. Then I walked to my room.


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