Dead elevator cements plan to climb to improved health
Every once in a while the office elevator — apparently around times it starts feeling unappreciated — flakes out on us.
Usually we can tell when it’s about to do so. It will start to shudder and shake, and make weird noises. Or it just gets that faraway look in its eyes.
When it does check out, it’s sometimes in need of the proverbial part that must be sent off for. Of course, it takes a bit for said part to come in.
So then the office becomes, for those of us in the newsroom, essentially a three-story walk-up. Those who are handicapped or who have serious health problems can choose to take the freight elevator, which requires operation by the building maintenance crew.
For the rest of us, the arduous trip begins with a couple of stairs from street level to the building’s front doors, then another few stairs to front-desk level. From there, it’s a choice of:
1. Taking what seems to be a zillion sets of Tim Burtontype stairs of varying lengths and landings, with the stairs from the second to third floor getting steeper than movie-theater snack prices.
2. Taking another short flight of stairs up to our business-department level and from there traversing the back stairs, which are more conventional.
I’m like most of us who are spoiled by elevators. You know, those of us who come in, punch the button, wait impatiently for the elevator to make its way back down to get us, punch the button again, secretly make faces at those co-workers who breeze past us on the way to the stairs, and secretly hope we get to the third floor first. Coming in to work and seeing the elevator down is enough to make the ol’ heart hit the floor with a proverbial thud. After which one must then tell the heart to get the heck up and help one make it up these stairs, which would be to its benefit.
Recently, the elevator went out again. Yes, an out-of-town part was needed for it. And I had not yet gotten myself to climb back on the workout wagon from which I’d fallen some time ago. The only exercise I’d been getting was on the stairs in my apartment building, where hubby and I live on the second floor of a two-story walk-up.
Nearly a year ago, I’d developed an old-lady pain that migrated back and forth from the back of my left leg to midfoot. After a doctor’s visit and ultrasound that found nothing serious and made a microscopic dent in my insurance deductible, I decided it must be sciatic nerve pain. I grinned and bore it, getting into the car hind-part first, making sure not to sit the wrong way … and going up and down stairs with the gingerness of a longhaired cat sticking a paw into a tub of bathwater. My knees, meanwhile, thanked me.
Nowadays my leg is a lot better, save for a few pangs now and then. I’m back to where I can go up a flight of stairs fairly normally; comfortable shoes enable quasi-normal descent.
I say all that to say I had no compelling excuse for waiting for the freight elevator.
Every day — hauling a purse, a lidded steel coffee cup and sometimes an extra bag containing umbrella and dress shoes, I’d head to the back staircase, puffing my way up three half-flights, resting briefly at the landing just before the last half-flight, and trying not to enter the newsroom sounding like Darth Vader with a bad sinus infection.
As I gained stairs stamina, I did some soul-searching. I realized that, much like the bad romances of one’s youth, the elevator could be a fickle and unreliable love interest who, just when things seemed to be going well, cheats or just plain disappears for a while. Eventually it comes back with box of candy and flowers in hand, asking forgiveness and sweet-talking its users back into a false sense of security.
I decided that this time, dang it, I wouldn’t be sweet-talked. I would keep taking the stairs at least once a day.
The day the elevator shed its orange “out of order” cone marker and made its re-debut, I breezed — well, I prefer to call it that — past it. There were no elevator- taking co-workers to breeze past and lord my determination over, but I thought I saw a gleam of respect in the eyes of the guards at the security desk.
“Decide to keep taking the stairs?” one of the first-floor ladies, who works near the back stairwell, asked.
“Yep,” I chirped. I won’t be left helpless the next time the elevator decides to cheat on us, disappear for a bit or take a long lunch. To quote The Who, I won’t get fooled again.
I’d just be helping to keep myself in good working order.