Going Up? My Love Affair with Elevators

I admit that I am not the most active of people. Some of my friends – those who know me really, really well – describe my laziness as “legendary.” I don’t mind this description, as it calls to mind a person whose feats are greater than the sum of her life; a hero, if you will. And who wouldn’t enjoy being thought of as a hero?

This “legendary” inactivity is no better illustrated than by my irrational love of elevators. I love elevators so much that I could probably count on one hand the times I have taken the stairs where there is an option to take an elevator, and one of those times includes being forced to take the stairs due to a fire.

The instant I see stairs, I look for an elevator. “Oh come on, it’s like seven steps!” my friends will argue as I frantically push the up button and wait for the doors to open. And when the doors do open, I step inside with the kind of haste usually reserved for being chased by rabid dogs. As the doors blissfully close and I begin my ascent (sans friends, who took the stairs), I relax and enjoy the few moments of non-judgmental peace I am afforded within the elevator sanctuary. Of course, when I reach my destination and the doors open, I am usually confronted by an arrogant group of smug people, who never fail to point out that taking the stairs was – and always will be – faster than taking the elevator. “Listen,” I tell them, “sometimes it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts.”

There are many things I love about elevators. For starters, taking an elevator is like going on a ride. Maybe not a ride on the level of, say, a carnival roller coaster of questionable safety, but a good time nonetheless. I enjoy the feeling of momentary pressure as the elevator begins to ascend upward, and then the brief sensation of weightlessness as the elevator descends back down. Then there is the thrill of entering the elevator on one floor, in one environment, and having the doors open onto a totally different floor, introducing you into a totally different world.

In addition to all this, I feel that there is something a bit romantic about elevators, like when two strangers find themselves alone in an elevator and by the time they reach the 20th floor they’ve fallen in love. Or two people who despise each other get stuck in an elevator during a blackout, only to emerge hours later with the realization that their hatred of each other truly stems from a deep and abiding love.

However, like most wonderful inventions, elevators are not without its critics. Oprah alleges that she never takes the elevator, allowing herself a mini-workout wherever there happens to be stairs. But Oprah is a mover and a shaker and an opportunist, greatly admired for her wisdom and actions. I doubt she has the time or the frame of mind to appreciate the simple joy of a nice, relaxing elevator ride. This makes me sad, and a little bit jealous, because if anyone could afford her own personal elevator, it’s Oprah. The things a woman like Oprah could do with her own elevator…well, the possibilities are endless.

My love of elevators has not come without a price. One time, several years ago, I was caught riding the cargo elevator to the second floor at a Barnes and Nobles bookstore. Apparently the elevator was only supposed to transport books, not slothful girls who couldn’t bear the thought of walking up half a flight of steps in order to get to the weight-loss literature. I didn’t get kicked out of the store (thank God, because I had a gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket), but I did get a stern talking-to by the manager. The lesson here is to choose your elevators with care: by all means, avoid the stairs in favor of the elevator, but make sure the elevator is made for human beings. In the case of an extreme emergency where there are no human elevators available, then you have no choice but to use the cargo lift. Just be sure that no one is looking. And most importantly, enjoy the ride.

You can read more from Ashley Konrad on her blog.

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