Sunday 3 August 2014

Elevator Encounters…

I’ve lived in a high rise building for a few years now, and during that time I’ve had numerous, random encounters in the elevators. Some have become so familiar to me that I barely notice them anymore, but some always stand out.

There’s Shades Man, who always has oversized sunglasses on, no matter the weather outside. There’s Tidy Man, who won’t press the elevator buttons unless his hand is tucked into his sleeve. One very memorable morning there was Happy Man, the aging rocker, who gleefully announced that he needed to check out but “there’s still a bird in my bed and she won’t get up”. Delightful.

Then there are the many elevator users which I can now easily categorise - for my own amusement - and so familiar have they become that I generally figure out which group they fit in as soon as they walk through the doors.

The magpies are the most numerous and also the most entertaining. They are entirely captivated by their shiny reflections as soon as the elevator doors open, and cannot help but spend the entire journey admiring themselves. Have mirror, will stare at reflection. Well, it didn’t go too well for Narcissus, magpies, that’s all I’m saying.

Then there are the peacocks. These are of the male species and see the elevator as an appropriate place to hit on women they do not know. They too primp and preen themselves in the mirror, but pause when one such as myself enters and then proceed to engage in infuriating conversations that go something like this: “Are you off to work? What number do you live at? Do you live there with your husband… boyfriend… alone…? What time do you finish work? What are you doing later?” and so it goes on, generally with the ‘me’ of the conversation saying very little, and the peacock persisting, despite the negative response his barrage of inappropriate and rushed questions yields.

At the other end of the confidence spectrum are the solitary wrens. Sighted but rarely, and always alone, the wrens are shy but so desperately concerned with their outward appearance that they pluck up the courage to ask their fellow elevator users “does my hair look ok?” “Does my mascara look smudged?” “Is my collar straight?” For the wrens, the mirror, so favoured by the magpies and the peacocks, is just not trustworthy.

And finally there are the sparrows. Always travelling in a host, these may be small individually, but together they are loud, frantic and utterly self-absorbed. The sparrows do not converse with anyone outside of the host, let along make eye contact with any other species. They flit into the elevator, fill it with their whispered twittering, and flit out as soon as the doors open.

Magpies, peacocks, wrens, sparrows... Many a winged friend - or foe - do I make in my daily elevator ride. It is always interesting to anticipate what random encounter I will have next. Just remember, frequent elevator users, there is often other people using the elevator, and they may just be categorising you too.

Elloise Hopkins.

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