10/25/2020
Ten floors below me

I was going to start this essay with "so far, the four-persons-per-elevator rule has made sense", but then I realized that I didn't really know what I was talking about. I can count with my fingers the number of times I have gone to our office, and in those instances I didn't really have to wait that long to ride an elevator. That mostly happens on the flat, but as people still don't leave their homes as much these days - or, really, what do I know? - there's a bigger chance you'll be inconvenienced by slow elevators than by full ones.

It doesn't mean it's always gone well, though. That said, in those instances when it doesn't, the damage is really mostly on you, and then you shake it off as a vagary of the times we live in. Yesterday I was waiting for an elevator with two more people. When one opened, I sort of rushed in, only to realize that there were two more people inside, and since I'm the fifth person, I'm the one who has to wait. "Sorry," I mumbled breathlessly, taking a split-second to get my leg out of the car and allow the doors to close. Just momentarily embarrassed, and that's about it.

This afternoon, as you'd expect, I was in an elevator, having just bought some antacids and snacks. (This, I think, says a lot about what has been going on in the past few weeks.) Being the only one inside, I was fervently hoping that no one else would come in - I mean, not that I hate people all of a sudden (or maybe I always have) but it's nice having an elevator all to yourself, your trip to an upper floor uninterrupted, and a few moments to yourself, spent thinking about almost nothing, perhaps staring at yourself in the decorative mirrors. But no. Someone was at one of the parking levels.

The doors have barely opened when 50-something woman and her, I guess, slightly-younger-than-me son entered.

"There's space for only two," she said.

Of course, that's wrong, because I am the only one in the elevator. But these things happens so fast. Not that I planned to do anything about it - my bubble was already burst and I didn't want to challenge things any further - but the doors were closing when I realized that, one, there is space for one more person in the elevator, and two, she most probably lied about it.

Indeed, just as the doors closed, a third person peered in, and saw that there is room for her.

"What?" she yelped, perhaps annoyed.

The doors close, and the two newcomers laughed mischievously.

I still wasn't in the mood to challenge things, but I thought, what if this was all an accident? I mean, it could be. I would've done the same thing. I would've laughed as well. It is a funny story you tell to friends. Remember when I thought the elevator was full, but it actually isn't? It's going to be a pretty hard sell, especially if you're talking to someone who, say, lived in a place where this pandemic was handled much better, and didn't have to navigate through all these restrictions just so people could say they did enough to handle this disease. Do you even remember a time when up to ten, maybe fifteen people can squeeze into an elevator? Do you remember pushing your luck even when it looks really full, but as you make your way in, the alarm sounds? I remember that. I remember feeling people were quietly judging me for being overweight. I also remember this one time when I was in a really packed shuttle to work - by that, I mean I was barely seated - and the woman beside me began pretty much attacking my weight on social media, something about how I should be dieting or exercising because I am squeezing her, when in fact we're all squeezed tightly and I was barely seated, and...

As I was thinking all that, the two newcomers were also having their own conversation. More of a giggle fit, really. I didn't bother listening in to everything they said, at least not until the elevator stopped at their floor. The mother stepped out first, somehow still beaming from what happened.

"It was intentional," she told her son.

I mean, she could be joking. She could be high from the humor in the situation. But then, I decided, I now know that there is a bitch who lives ten floors below me.

And your responses...

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