My building has a new elevator. (The old one worked just fine in 1916, but had gotten a little tired since then. Upon entering, one was required to calculate the number of people present [one dog = 1/2 human? what about 2 babies?] to ascertain if we exceeded the magic number of 4 and, if so, was it worth challenging the odds and possibly getting stuck between floors 11 and 12. Fellow riders often disagreed with the majority decision. The elevator could be a mean and contentious place.) The new elevator, all dark wood and brass adorned with slick red LEDs, swift and silent like the wind, is a thing of efficient beauty.
The other day I got on en route to the lobby, and settled in for 12 perfect seconds. We stopped two floors down, and another woman entered. We nodded hello, exchanging glances of smug entitlement: yo, we are the luckiest. We have the best elevator in the city.
Then: "Do you want a free Mediterranean vacation? Just press 2!" said the elevator.
The other woman and I looked at each other in shock. The elevator continued:
"Or get on our mailing list to qualify for future drawings! Just press 3!" The perky female voice seemed to emanate from the floor button panel, where one could indeed to press 2 or 3. The woman and I stood stood frozen in place, with jaws dropped. The last thing we wanted to do was prolong the ride by stopping at other floors. The elevator continue to prattle away about our wonderful chances of floating in a perfect blue sea.
We reached the lobby. I did not want to be anywhere near the elevator, and raced to the door. The other woman confronted the doorman: "It talked to us! The elevator talked to us!" she screamed, first in English and then in Spanish, as if to emphasize the global horror of this event.
I never found out what happened, but presumably the crossed wires were fixed sometime that afternoon. On my next trip upstairs, all sales pitches were duly stifled.
(To be continued.)