Work in a city? Have office in a multi-storeyed building? If you have answered 'Yes' to these questions, you will certainly empathize with this post and me!
One of the downsides of having to work in a multi-storeyed building is the elevator. You are so dependent on them. More than a utility, it is now a style statement, and even health clubs on the second floor have lift access! It is so much a part of our lives that we seldom give it its due. And just like we wrote in our essays in school, this marvel of technology comes at a price. For the technically inclined, to understand this world of elevators better, look here. I am also listing a few types that I've seen in my days.
The Grill - Apt name that originates from its 'see through' grill sliding doors. Very Spartan, with floor buttons inside and call buttons in the lobby. It don't matter whether you are going up or down. You control it when it comes to you. The commies could very well have designed it, because of its Socialist approach to passengers. First come, first served. May have ventilation and lighting. Much-preferred accessories are the buzzer (for amusement), a stop button (again for amusement), a liftman (depending on your mood for amusement or to test your patience), and graphic images warning people what will happen to their limbs if they are caught in the grill.
The Grill 2 – A bit superior than the grill with umpteen variations. Some have a voice command reminding you (not so politely) to ‘please close the door’ to an extremely irritating beep/alarm. These put the fear of God into the passenger and ensured that they behaved. This probably was the one that pioneered the fan in the cabin.
Gen 1 with sliding doors – These were quite the ‘in thing’ when they were launched. These doors opened and closed automatically! The doors were generally made of steel (that may or may not be painted) giving the passengers complete privacy. It inspired Steven Tyler to write a dedication to this monument of transport ‘Love in an elevator’. The automatic doors meant additional buttons to open and close the doors (again for amusement). This is the model that was here to stay.
Gen 2 with sliding doors – When we were introduces to the concept of safety, there were additional buttons and accessories added to the already growing list. On the outside, you have buttons for up and down, and inside, the alarm button and the telephone! I have learnt to truly appreciate this during my days in Gurgaon. The Power Cuts meant that the lifts used to be intermittently out of service and you were often out of service with the lift. You then press the alarm button, there are outcomes that vary from a beep, to a shrill bell, to an ambulance gone crazy. Someone comes on line and tells you to be calm and in a matter of a few minutes (ranging from 1 minute to about 20) you are rescued.
Gen 3 with sliding doors – This one is the typical elevator you can expect to find at work. It comes with air-conditioning, buttons that light up when pressed, bright lighting, video surveillance, random additional buttons… the works! I miss having a vending machine in there though…
Gen 4 with sliding doors – Minimal buttons inside. You press the floor you want to go to in the lobby, the console directs you to the car. Insides similar to the Gen 3 but without the floor buttons, depriving you of amusement.
High-speed elevators – Similar to the Gen 3, but with different cars to take for every 20 – 3- floors. You experience mild g-forces while riding it.
But one thing that never ceases to amaze me, is the ways the elevator can get to you! Especially when you have challenged co-passengers. I have listed a few that I’m sure you may have come across:
The ‘Severely Challenged’ – These are people with an average IQ below that of a snail. They press both (up and down) buttons in the lobby. A variation would be pressing the button corresponding to the opposite direction of desired travel. And no matter where they want to go, they always step in when the lift comes in.
The ‘Completely Confused’ – This includes some people from the first category too. These are the ones that have great difficulty in figuring out where to go. They get in, realize that the elevator is going in the opposite direction, and panic. They then try to get out on the next level and end up stalling your journey.
The ‘Outright Stupid’ – These, you can easily make out. They appear to be in a state of ‘zen’ in a lift. They act in slow motion and quite often end up getting on your nerves and on the wrong floor. The cycle then repeats, but it’s not your problem now :)
The ‘Harried Executive’ – flies in to the lobby, jets from one car to another, screaming on the phone, usually realizing his destination late. They get the same vibes from others that Osama gets from Bush.
The ‘Low Lives’ – Used in reference to people who get down between your floors and from where you caught the lift. They may belong to any category, but the idea is that they’ve slowed down your trip :(
The ‘Frequent Fliers’ – Gentle, benevolent beings, who use the lift at-least 8 times for round trips. Typical behavior for smokers, everything okay when you go downstairs, but reek of smoke on the way up.
The ‘Going Postals’ – Ordinary people who act in an extraordinary manner when confronted with any of the above. Behavior may range from being a ‘rebel without a cause’ (pressing all buttons on the elevator when they get off) to being abusive or violent.
The ‘Mere Mortals’ – The silent commuters who endure this trip day in and day out. Their co-workers regard them as ideal candidates that may ‘Go Postal’.
After writing this post, I now realize that I may have been responsible for the actions of some of the co-workers in my Gurgaon building. But knowing Gurgaon, I would not be surprised even if it is otherwise. Nevertheless, I Keep Walking :)