Here I go again about the elevator. Last night I came home around 11 PM and ended up in the elevator (which I have written about before, which either shows how interesting it is or how few things I have to talk about, judge for yourself here.) with three other people.
The elevator is small, and four is about its maximum capacity, though I believe it claims it can carry six. When I was young, I was in a play about getting stuck in an elevator, and we all carried on about the dreams we had for ourselves and what we would do if we got out without dying. I remember precious little about this play, except I had a sarcastic line about my kibbutz father being Idi Amin, which, poor imaginary kibbutz-father, that’s a hell of a character assassination.
At any rate, whenever I’m in the elevator with multiple people I wonder if we will get stuck (as the elevator does from time to time), and what we will talk about if we do. I think I might suffer from elevator anxiety, actually, but it is not unfounded, as I have gotten stuck in this beast before.
The elevator is an old relic, and you have to punch in your desired floors one by one. Well, you can punch them all in at once, but the elevator will only “remember” the first one, and then you’ll have to punch them in again.
Machismo and culture dictate that I walk into the elevator before any men present, and that I let them pull the door and then the gate shut. At this point, though, I tend to take charge. I ask everyone “A qué piso van?” (what floor?), and start the process of punching in the numbers. It’s not because I have secret aspirations of being an elevator monitor, that guy who in the cool 1930’s buildings in Manhattan, sits on a little stool and uses a sewing-machine like wheel to open and close the doors when the elevator arrives at the appointed floor. It’s because I live on the sixth and final floor, and no matter who is in the elevator with me, my button goes last. I always ask everyone else because I prefer to minimize my time in the elevator (see elevator anxiety, above), and also because, even though it’s childish, I prefer not to say the word “sexto” which means sixth when asked what floor I’m going to, and saying “seis” (six) makes it sound like I don’t know my ordinal numbers in Spanish. Which I do, though I get tripped up on eleven and above.
The other thing is that at a very heightly nearly scraping 5’7″, and the fact that hey, I’m not from here, and adding to that, I often come and go with a bicycle, nearly everyone knows who I am and where I live. And maybe I’m spacy, or just flighty but I can get into the elevator with the same person five times, and still not remember their floor unless they’re my hallmate. So every time I ask what floor people are going to I feel like a little bit of a jerk for not remembering. And so I send out a semipublic apology to the people who live in this cute old building just steps from the Santa Ana Metro. And it goes a little like this: Sorry I don’t know what floor you live on, I’m just not that copuchenta (gossipy/nosy). And also, third floor: ladies’ lingerie!