Upon my arrival to the elevator bay in my office building, I found that a queue had already formed, so like any well-trained New Yorker, I took my place at the end of it. The elevator doors opened, and when it was my turn, I stepped into the brass box. I turned to the panel to select my floor, only to find the familiar panel of buttons missing. Where yesterday there had been a selection of buttons numbered L to 50 today there was only a smooth brass wall.
The doors close, and with rising panic I realize that we are rocketing skyward, with no control over our final destination. I imagine the Wonkavator, shooting us out into the downtown sky only to crash back down again into the path of a Staten Island bound express bus.
Where are we going? How can I tell the elevator where I want to go? I can’t! My breath catches in my throat. I had trusted my fate to a blank brass box rocketing through the building’s core. I am trapped. There is no chance the box will stop on my floor at all. I will have to get out where someone else gets out and try to make my way manually back to my floor.
It’s hard to go around feeling beat up all the time. It sucks to feel like everything in life is weighing down on you. I could tell you my things but you have your things, so you know what I’m talking about. Sometimes I feel filled with hope and all the lights seem bright and brighter, and I feel in control of my life and my very own personal meaning. Then I get ushered into a box and rocketed upwards through the core of a skyscraper where I am merely a piece in a vast and intricate game, and not the player.
I don’t want to be in a box, much less a box with no buttons, merely because the building owners wish to shave a few pennies from their overall utility bill. “Your penny-saving is not worth my sense of autonomy!” I want to scream. Instead I look around at my fellow elevator riders. Two women. The one to my right is older and short, hunched, with shoulder length gray hair and whispy bangs, her lower eyelids droop away from her eyeballs and the inner red is visible. The other is a tall, elegant black woman, with big sunglasses, sumptuous red lipstick, and legs for days. I motion with my hand to the blank brass panels on either side of the door. “Creepy, right?” I ask.
Both in unison proclaim loudly “YES!” We three women who look very different are experiencing the exact same thing: the loss of autonomy, a feeling of insecurity, a sudden awareness of the horrible, terrifying truth: we are not in control of our own destination. We all hate it; we all want it to go back to the old way. This new way of giving over your autonomy, sense of direction, and ability to move freely through time and space SUCKS.
I get off as soon as the doors open, on 27. I find a touchscreen keypad in the floor’s wide elevator bay. I punch in the floor to my office. I am directed to elevator A2. I stand before it and wait, alone, for my brass box. I imagine all the things that could happen to a solitary female alone with a madman or solicitous coworker in a brass box rocketing through to core of a building to the top floor, with no chance of a stop on an intervening floor, with her hands pinned and no ability to reach the call button, with slacker security guards who don’t pay close attention to the video feed from 14 elevators all at once.