One Thousand Words on Elevators

I hate elevators. They’re small and crowded. And I can smell the people in the elevator with me. You shouldn’t be able to smell people you don’t know. The worst are elevators with the little televisions in them. It’s like watching TV on a carnival ride. Who watches CNN on a ferris wheel?

I always stand facing the corner when I take an elevator. People probably give me strange looks, but I’m facing the corner. I can’t see them so I don’t care. Let them look. If it helps me get from the first to the forty-third floor without having a nervous breakdown or anxiety attack, I’m going to face the corner. And hum. Humming helps too.

Even though I’m facing the corner, I have to know exactly how many people are on the elevator with me. I can tell how many people are getting on and off by the noises they make. I keep track in my head. That’s why I know that there are eight people, besides me, on the elevator on The Horrible Day.

The Horrible Day started out just fine. I got up, had breakfast (one cup of orange juice, one bowl of Fruity Pebbles, and two Flintstone’s Chewy Vitamins) and fed my hamster, Barney. He’s named after Barney Rubble. Then I had to take a shower and get dressed for my appointment with Dr. Harris. Dr. Harris’s office is on the forty-third floor. I tried to find a doctor on the first floor, or at least on a floor low enough that I could take the stairs, but I couldn’t. I tried Dr. Southland but he was on the eighth floor and I was sweaty by the time I got to his office. I had to sit and talk for an hour smelling like sweat and Dr. Southland wouldn’t let me use his shower. So I brave the elevator to see Dr. Harris. I like Dr. Harris. I think she would let me use her shower.

Here’s what happened on The Horrible Day: I got on the elevator and was standing in the corner, humming like always. There were three other people on the elevator with me. They weren’t talking, but I could hear them breathing. On the seventh floor, two more people got on. One person got off on the eleventh floor so that left four people and me. I was counting floors so I knew when to get off. The elevator stopped between the sixteenth and seventeenth floor. I wondered if I should count sixteen and a half. But then I realized that the elevator wasn’t moving. We were stuck in the elevator. I hummed a little louder.

The woman with the sniffles said, “Why aren’t we moving?”

The man who sounded like he had a sore throat said, “I don’t know.”

Someone pushed some buttons. Nothing happened. I hummed a little louder.

Sore Throat said, “Would you quit the humming?” I tried.

The woman who giggled when she talked said, “Should we try the emergency phone?”

Someone opened the door to the phone. The woman who sounded like a radio deejay said, “Hello? Hello? There’s no one there.”

Giggles giggled. I started humming again.

Sore Throat said, “Jesus!”

No one said anything for a long time

Finally The Deejay said, “Does anyone have a cell phone?”

I don’t have a cell phone. They give you brain cancer. But now I understand why a person might want a cell phone, just in case they have a Horrible Day and are stuck in an elevator. If I had a cell phone, I could call Dr. Harris so she could talk to me and make me feel better.

No one else had a cell phone. They didn’t want brain cancer either.

It was hot in the elevator and I could smell the other people starting to sweat.

Sore Throat started yelling “Hey, we’re in here! We’re stuck in the elevator.” There were lots of banging noises.

Then someone yelled through the door. “We hear you. We’ve called someone to get you out. Hang on.”

I stopped humming. The Deejay said, “Thank God.”

Someone sat down on the floor. Sniffles said, “I guess we might as well get comfortable.” Someone else sat down on the floor.

Sniffles said, “When are you due?”

Giggles said, “Oh, any moment now.” I started humming again. Giggles said, “I’m just kidding. I’m not due for another two months.”

Sore Throat said, “Stop humming!”

The Deejay said, “Leave him alone.”

Sore Throat said, “His humming is freaking me out.”

Giggles said, “Would anyone like some gum?”

Someone banged on the outside of the elevator door. “Stand back. We’re trying to pry the door open.”

Everyone shuffled to the back of the elevator. I could really smell them.

There was a loud creaking noise and then I could feel some fresh air. A guy with a funny accent said, “I think we can pull you up through the door.”

Sniffles said, “I’ll go first.”

There were scuffling noises and Sniffles was gone.

Sore Throat said “We’ve got a pregnant lady. I’ll help lift her up.”

More scuffling noises and some grunting and Giggles was gone.

Sore Throat said, “You’re next.”

The Deejay said, “I’ll help you get him out.” Then she said, “Sir, would you like us to help you out?” She was talking to me. I hummed louder.

Someone touched my shoulder and guided me back toward the door. I closed my eyes. Someone grabbed me around my legs and lifted. Someone else grabbed my under the armpits and lifted. Sore Throat said, “You could help a little, you know.” I hummed louder.

When I opened my eyes I was standing on the seventeenth floor. I smelled like sweat. I said, “Thank you” and ran for the stairs. I ran down seventeen flights of stairs and ran all the way home. Then I took a shower, ate a sandwich and fed Barney some lettuce. He likes lettuce. That was my Horrible Day.


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