Going down.

25 Jun

One of the elevators is out of service in my building, leaving only the other one. This has turned my otherwise ordinary and composed neighbors into lunatics. On my last ride down, I thought to myself, “This is how movements are born. Flags will be sewn tonight.”

People rarely speak on the elevators here. It is a keep-to-yourself kind of apartment house. The dog lovers interact with each others’ dogs, true, but rarely with the other end of the leash. Some people jockey for position to be first off (especially Julie who is like a rubber band about to snap 24/7) while others like me skulk to the back corners to observe body language and couched glances. All in all, it is a quiet, boring affair.

All day today however, my neighbors became positively mutinous. Scowling, loud protestations about mismanagement and soaring rents and crises magnified by furious waits. Cramped and crowded, the conversation continually elevated itself to outbidding gripes over gripes.

“I have a hiatal hernia!”

“I have two! I have a hiatal hernia and an inguinal hernia!”

I was taking notes. Each ride has become some kind of delicious master class for a hypochondriac.

I heard two doormen from different shifts assaulted with inquiries. “The elevator won’t be fixed until tomorrow? You know this for a fact?” “Nothing can be done tonight? Isn’t this an emergency situation?” “What about the man who had a heart attack climbing the stairs during the blackout of 2003?” said the weirdo who carries a bird around, a prosecutor with a parrot on his shoulders who had to reach back a decade for a precedent. Jesús, the older doorman of the two, by a good sixty years, reverted to his native tongue, feigned lost in translation and shrugged his not-my-problem shoulders. Jorge, who takes his job so seriously I believe he believes he has a military commission, had crafted a careful, informative statement by the time I ran across him. His White House Press Secretary response: The first elevator has suffered a severe malfunction and we are waiting for a part to be couriered as soon as possible. We are told it will be sometime tomorrow and early. He emphasized “early” to great effect. It meant “we care” and “no further questions.” Statesmanlike, I thought, as I hit the door, visions of parts being couriered dancing in my head.

It is interesting how a shared experience has brought my neighbors together. It is interesting to hear us talking with each other. But it is far more interesting to learn we are all a bunch of cranks who would rather sink one another with complaints going down than lift each others’ spirits on the way up.

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