Last week, I rounded the corner in my building’s lobby and made eye contact with a guy who was standing on the only working elevator… just as the doors were starting to close. This is how the game begins.
On an elevator when you hold the door for someone you’re a hero. You get a really surprised “Thanks!” You feel good about yourself. But that feeling fades fast as you are stuck with the door open for 95 more seconds, stragglers keep turning the corner waving for you to “hold it,” and once you’ve held it for one person, you’re obliged for the rest. They keep getting on, and on, and on– like it’s Noah’s Ark for people with bad timing.
But this guy? Down his eyes go toward his iPod, and he lets the doors close before I can reach the elevator.
It’s fine. I’ve played that game before too.
He’s doing it wrong, by the way. You’re supposed to get in the elevator, flatten yourself against the side of the car, out of the line of sight of anyone, and hit the ‘close door’ button as many times as possible. The game gets really exciting when you hear someone running to catch it, yelling “Wait, no no no! Hold it!” They’ll see an empty elevator but hear that taptaptap reaching an incredible fever pitch the closer they get. To add to the excitement, and as a justification, I used to tell myself that that person running for the elevator could be a murderer.
But this guy? He had his iPod going. So he never hears the exciting part. He wasn’t even hitting the ‘close door’ button, either. Just stood out in the open. So arrogant.
It reminded me of a past version of myself I never got to say goodbye to. It was a simpler time then. Our cats were kittens and would sometimes run up to me, throw up at my feet, and run off. I’d stare at it for a second, hope my future wife hadn’t noticed, then move to the other side of the room, and pretend to be asleep.
I gave myself a hardy pat on the back when I outgrew this instinct and can now proudly say “Honey, I cleaned the mess instead of letting the other cat eat it up.”
Admit it, that was good teamwork on behalf of my other cat.
There were even simpler times, were I’d take a shower, go to work, come home, and find I had left a soaking wet towel draped over the bed. Never consciously though. It’s like I’d blackout and become an 11-year old idiot. But I’d hang up the towel and blow dry the bed, hopefully before I get caught and subsequently shamed by my future wife into not being allowed to use towels anymore.
And the simplest times, instead of being the one to tip the overflowing garbage in that unspoken roommate game of trash can Jenga, (because if it tips over you have to take out the garbage), I would just flush whatever I was going to throw out down the toilet. I’d finish the last cup of coffee, not replace toilet paper, and then eat your leftovers. I was the worst.
But those days are behind me now. And those elevator doors are metaphorically closing on that simpler time of being a worthless slob. With about 12 inches left, before they’ve closed completely, I see that smug bastard smile at me. It’s my former version of myself’s way of saying bye. Saying bye forever to grown up Brian.
“Good bye, inconsiderate former self” I said as the doors are about to close shut–
They have 3 inches to go in our goodbye when they open back up. A woman was standing in the car, off to the side, a place normally designated for hiding and taptaptaping the ‘close door’ button. She’d seen me at the last second, and with an “Oh my!” hit the button.
“Thank you!” I said, staring at the guy as I stepped on and hit the button for the 5th floor. Guy’s eyes went wide and did not move from his iPod’s screen. He forgot the cardinal rule of elevator; it needs to be agreed upon by everyone on the elevator if you’re going to screw over the late person.
I stood right next to him, and did what anyone would do in my situation. Stared at his head and hoped it would suddenly explode. He could sense this and tucked his chin into his chest.
Then the elevator dings for his floor. The 2nd floor. The floor that is 15 feet above the lobby. “Take the stairs next time, pal.” Is what I didn’t say to him, but should’ve. “Common courtesy? More like rare courtesy with this guy.” Is what I didn’t say and am glad I didn’t say and nobody should ever say. But still, I should’ve said something.
Anyway, I know where he works now and on what floor. So, if anyone is looking for me, like my boss or co-workers, I’m going to be spending my mornings on the elevator, holding the door for everyone else, and making sure that guy takes the stairs.
This is the new Brian. A more courteous Brian. And he has a thirst for petty revenge.