Friday, April 11, 2008

Elevator story

From the time I was a kid, elevators have been magical to me. They were machines that were intimately connected to adulthood -- only found in adult places, like office buildings and hotels. They were rooms that, as moviemakers well know, might not be moving at all -- perhaps the stagehands are just rearranging the sets behind the doors so that they seem to be taking us to different places.

When my older brother and I stayed in hotels on vacation with my folks, we took off as soon as we could to ride the elevators. Up and down we went, dashing across floors to go to the elevators in the other tower, darting for the open doors on a whim to exit or enter. We must have been quite annoying to the paying guests.

Much as I feel like a young interloper in the world of adults when walking through an airport, there's something about being in an elevator that makes me feel like I'm playing a role that I'm not quite suited for. The polite greeting when other riders get on, the option to lean on the brass rails, the implication that you choose your destination, that you have a goal, that you know where you want to go. Those are markers of the grownup world that I've never felt truly belonged to me -- but always enjoyed pretending to have.


Adam Villani said...

I wonder where the world's shortest escalator is.

At City Hall where I work, if you want to go from my office to the observation deck up on top (the 27th floor), you have to take four separate elevators (or the stairs).

I do enjoy working in a genuine landmark, an old-style government building with marble columns, epigrams over the entrances, a rotunda, elegantly-styled elevators, painted names on frosted glass office doors, etc.

Adam Villani said...

Wikipedia says the shortest escalator is in Japan and has a vertical rise of only 83 cm.