If elevators could talk, they’d share tales of joy, rage, sex, desperation, every feeling available in the emotional spectrum. Service elevators are no different; to my brethren and I, they are a safe haven from the madness beyond the rush of the traveling crowd. A quiet place free of the symphony of the traveler’s orchestra.
A place to exhale. To scream. To pound the walls when necessary, and yes, on rare occasions, to pound each other.
Elevators cannot tell tales, it’s true.
But I can.
A Typical Elevator Ride On A Typical Day In My Far-From-Typical World.
The Place: A Crowded Service Elevator.
Jay: A houseman.
Phil: Another houseman.
Tony: A maintenance man.
Rich: Another wrench-slinger.
Yours truly and a luggage cart overloaded with refuse humans love to accumulate, otherwise known as “luggage.”
In this case, the luggage in question consisted of three ripped garment bags, four cases of wine and four black suitcases plastered with stickers from various destinations all over the globe. These stickers were the impetus for a deliciously-dysfunctional conversation, gentle readers.
JAY: (Casting his gaze across the elevator and fixating on the suitcases after realizing none of the housekeepers present were going to allow him to eye-fuck them.) Hey, check out the nifty cases!
ME: “Nifty” What are you, a transfer from Pleasantville?
My cutting-edge humor was quickly swept away by a wave of well-intentioned idiocy.
TONY: (Pointing at a Sicilian sticker.) Those cases are pretty fresco.
PHIL: It means “cool” in Italian.
TONY: (Staring at Phil’s stout, George Costanzaish, ultra-white frame.) How would you know?
PHIL: I’m banging an Italian chick from Laundry named Antonia!
The housekeepers rolled their eyes in synchronized swimming unison. Jay and Rich looked away while beaming. I waited for the other work boot to drop…
TONY: My cousin Antonia?
And there it was.
PHIL: She says “Hey!” At least she would, if she didn’t have my junk in her mouth all the time!
Fortunately for Phil – and for that matter, the rest of us – Tony’s family isn’t very close. He let the comment drop after everyone in the elevator stopped laughing.
All the while, the elevator lurched along like that rusted roadster your grandmother refuses to take out of the garage. As it amended, the level of working-class lunacy rose. Each of the guys began to point out various stickers featuring phrases, characters and names of different destinations.
JAY: I wonder what part of Italy this guy is from?
RICH: Italy? This sticker on this suitcase says “Viva Las Vegas!”. He’s probably from Vegas.
PHIL: Nah, here’s a Germany sticker! He’s probably Bavarian.
TONY: Or a Samurai from the Land of the Rising Sun.
JAY: He could be a Zulu warrior.
RICH: Or even a Dominican fisherman!
As a lifelong dumbass myself, I can tolerate a lot, but even I have my limits…
ME: GUYS! (That brought everyone down a few levels.) You can’t trace a person’s origins through their luggage! Look, this sticker here says “Atlantis”, but I’m fairly certain this guy isn’t frickin’ Aquaman!
THE HOUSEKEEPERS: (In unison.) Are you sure, Robert?
EVERYONE ELSE: (Also in unison.) Are you sure, Hook?
The truth was, at that point I was too busy shaking my head to think straight. I love my job and my fellow inmates, but after that ride I never considered the service elevator a safe haven again.
See you in the lobby, kids..