Elevator Man

Going down: Confessions of an Elevator Man

By "John," Manhattan Elevator Operator  | April 5, 2010 - 7:03AM

Hi. My name is John.  No, that’s not my real name. But I’m also not my real self, not from the minute I walk through the polished double brass doors of my building, where no matter how strong the sun is you can’t see through the cloud of smug.  

This building is my battle zone, and appropriate uniform and appearance are paramount, or at least that’s what my boss says.  

So when I get there I make sure the creases of my trousers are crisply pressed, the cuffs of my white button-down shirt are unstained, the black and white stripes on my vest are still horizontal and my sports coat hasn’t been stolen by a dishonest employee. 

Oh yeah.  Then I put on my bowtie.  Yeah, I said bowtie and I know exactly what you are thinking.  This is not a uniform; it’s a fucking costume--part waiter's uniform and part magician’s outfit.  

When that’s all done, I haul one foot over the other to relieve my co-worker, who by the end of his shift is covered in soot from spending the past eight hours in the cloud of smug. 

I close my eyes, hold my breath, and shut the elevator door. 

It has begun.

The first sound I hear after slamming my door closed is an ear piercing it’s-going-to-be-a-long-day-if-you’re-hung-over buzzing sound. 

It’s so-and-so and she wants me to mail her letter in the building post box.

Fine, I’ll do it.  With a smile and all.  

But this frustrates me because whether you turn left or right out of the building there’s a mailbox at either corner.  Let me guess: The ink she used in her one-page letter is special expensive ink and weighs ten times that of normal ink, making it difficult for her to carry.  I mail it.

The next ring comes from the penthouse and I ascend up from the lobby.  Before I can reach the 5th floor, the penthouse impatiently rings again, the sound piercing through my headache like a fire alarm.  

I open the door accept her “good morning” with a piggish smile.

“I am sorry if I rang more than once," she says. "I couldn’t hear the ring."

Well, no shit.  The alarm is in the lobby and you’re 200 feet and 20 thick slabs of concrete away from it.

The crackling of open air is playing on my walkie-talkie moments before the doorman who speaks with an accent from somewhere in outer space tells me there is a package on my bench that needs to be delivered.   

Three things here: First, I hate the radio.  It’s blind empowerment.  Second, I’m going to see the package--which has the apartment and floor written on it--in two seconds, with or without the heads-up.  Third, I can’t understand you and I’m hungover so stop using your radio like you are an announcer at an Albanian soccer game.

When I get back from break, my hangover is gone. 

Now I am high as a kite. Marijuana settles me. It enables me to act fake to keep other people happy.

Actually there are a lot of things I do at work that settle me.  Let’s take sex for instance.  Yeah, I did it.  In the elevator.  Are you shocked?  If you are, I probably shouldn’t tell you it was with a shareholder’s daughter.

Coming up in two weeks: 
Why Elevator Man took this job in the first place.

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