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There is an elevator in my apartment building. It is a source of perpetual anxiety. I want to destroy the elevator.
Elevators are untrustworthy spaces. They obfuscate your surroundings and form an impenetrable box within which it is impossible to determine where you are. The light-up numbers say I’m in between the 2nd and 3rd floors. But am I really? Am I supposed to accept everything the buttons tell me? What has the elevator done to deserve my trust?
People love elevators. I suspect this is because they hate stairs. If it weren’t for their hatred of stairs, the elevator would be nothing more than a moving coffin that common sense tells you is not a place you wish to be. The stair-hating contingent have helped proliferate unfounded trust in the elevator.
When I come home after work, I take the stairs from the basement where I lock my bike up to the fourth floor where my apartment is. It takes between 45 seconds to a minute to zip up the stairs on foot. Very efficient.
Almost every day, neighbors return home around the same time that I do. As they mosey from their cars to the elevator, they witness me awkwardly trying to lock my bike into a too-small spot on the bike rack. They head straight for the elevator and hit the “up” button.
Then they hold the elevator. For me.
It’s a daily insanity. Do I take the elevator? They held it for me, so I should take the elevator. But I HATE the elevator. I love the stairs. If I take the stairs will they think I don’t want to ride in an elevator with them? I mean, I am not thrilled about riding in the moving coffin with stranger neighbors, but mostly I just hate that elevator.
Sometimes I pretend I’m having “trouble” with my lock, just so I can shout “no need to hold the elevator!” Other times I pretend I need to check the mail on the first floor and it’s obviously absurd to take an elevator one floor up. I open the door to the stairs with confidence, doing my best to act like I clearly have a reason for taking the stairs. And how aggressively I push open the stairwell door communicates that this is completely legit.
I have rehearsed the details of my story, should a neighbor ever choose to question why I’m not taking the elevator. “Oh, I’m expecting a package from Amazon, some books I ordered, very exciting!” Details are important.
Other times I’ll see a car pulling in as I’m locking my bike, and it’s a race to get to the stairs before they can make it to the elevator and hold the fucking thing for me. I charge up four flights, hoping they don’t happen to live on my floor and catch me in the act of avoiding the elevator. I can’t tell them I hate the elevator, which means they’ll assume I hate them and would rather hurl myself up four stories than have to stand in a box with them.
On occasion I’ve succumbed to pressure and taken the elevator after someone sat there holding it for me. What choice do I have? We all have to live in this world together! We chit-chat about how nice the weather has been for biking, and oh isn’t it nice that a new restaurant opened up nearby. All the while my hatred for a world dominated by elevator-lovers slowly fills the unreasonably small space between us, and I pray we don’t have to die together somewhere in the purported gap between the 3rd and 4th floors.