5/27/2015
A generational divide, as seen in elevators

Because of the sheer number of people working in the building where my office is, the elevators only stop at certain floors during the morning rush hour. Of the four elevators serving the upper half of the building, two are designated to make stops from the 16th to the 20th floors, while two make stops from the 21st to the 27th.

I work on the 19th floor, so I go on the former, or at least when I get to work between a quarter to eight and nine flat. Allene, who works - err, worked - on either the 24th or the 25th (don't ask me, they're too big and they hog everything), goes on the latter.

We often talk about these elevators, mostly about how terrible it is to find yourself stranded at the elevator lobby for quarter-hours during the lunch rush, but sometimes about how we don't really often bump into each other in the elevators. Well, we do. In those cases, either she doesn't notice me, or I don't notice her, or we do notice each other, but cannot acknowledge each other because of the sheer number of people.

Or, it could be early in the morning, in which case we cannot be in the same elevators.

"Andun ka pa sa elevator ng mga matatanda," she once said.

Yeah, well, I am at the elderly elevator. An insurance company resides on the 20th floor, and it is swarmed with elderly insurance agents. Well, there are young people too - I pay my premiums there, in what is the most convenient payment arrangement I've ever been involved in - but mostly old people. You can see it in the elevators. When women in their 50s enter the elevator, they're very likely to press the button that says "20". And they're very likely to be surprised to see each other in these elevators.

"O, kamusta ka na?" one would ask.

"By the grace of God, mabuti naman," the other would answer.

"At kamusta naman ang travel plans?"

"Ay! Darating rin tayo diyan."

"Saan ka ba pupunta this year?"

"Sa Los Angeles lang."

"May promo daw ngayon. Why don't you try Hokkaido? 500 off 'yun."

"Puwede rin. Hindi pa ako nakakapunta doon."

"Ako, pupunta ako ng Scotland this year."

And that is when I leave the elevator.

I don't know if I've told Allene this, but the whole "elderly elevator" thing is wrong. There are far too many call centers between the 16th and the 20th floors. In fact, there is one on my floor, and it is filled with the most obnoxious people, judging from how it always plays loud workout music at nine in the morning (for what, a motivation exercise that would make you lose your breath just as you start receiving calls?) and how the men's toilets are littered with toilet paper (both used and unused), wall drawings and even unflushed poop - as opposed to poop you couldn't flush even if you tried - at eight in the morning.

Anyway, imagine the torture. I am a 26-year-old marketing executive, regularly going to work wearing rolled-up long-sleeved shirts, carrying a messenger bag containing my heavier-by-the-day laptop. I am surrounded by people evidently younger than me, always wearing more casual outfits, always with more flawless skin, and always with a Starbucks drink in their hands. (I mean, I could afford Starbucks, but I can't always afford Starbucks.) And always talking loudly.

"...parang hotdog," one of the guys, holding a venti frap and wearing thick-rimmed hipster glasses, would say.

"Jumbo hotdog," another guy, also holding a venti frap, would answer.

"Hindiii. Hotdog lang."

"Hotdog lang?"

"O Frankfurter. Hungarian. Pwedeng Hungarian."

A third colleague of theirs - a female, also holding a venti frap - giggles.

"Tahong." That's the first guy. "Ang lutong ng pagkakasabi ko, 'no? Tahong."

And that is when I leave the elevator.

And your responses...

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