Well, I managed to survive another week, and by survive, I mean LITERALLY not get killed. Over the course of the last few days, something terrifying happened, and something lovely also happened. Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Obviously, the bad news, right? Because we need to get the sh*t out of the way so that we can celebrate the good things that life has to offer. So away we go…
On Thursday, I decided that I wanted hot chocolate. I like to make it with half hot water and half milk, but the communal milk in my mini-frig was sour (sorry, M, but we aren’t drinking that sh*t fast enough—pick up the pace!), and I decided to pop down to the store on the corner to buy a new carton. I came back into the building with my bag of milk, and some hummus and crackers for lunch, and got onto the elevator. You may recall, if you visit this site often, that I am particularly phobic about elevators, and often have nightmares about them. You may also remember that a few weeks ago, I had an elevator incident where I accidentally pushed the basement button and couldn’t get to my floor for a few minutes. So naturally, I’m very careful now in terms of buttons. Of course, aside from the numbers, I don’t know what any of the other buttons mean. Most elevators just have symbols, which I have always related back to the Star Wars universe, and simply call them “Imperial Fighter”, “X-Wing Fighter”, “Darth Vader’s Helmet” and either “Princess Leia’s Hairdo”, or “ET, phone home” depending on which way the phone icon is facing. So yes, I know the phone is to call someone, but as for the rest, I am perpetually stumped. I never know which one opens the door or closes it, and 9 times out of 10, I accidentally shut the door on someone calling, “Hold the elevator!” and then seem like a total jerk, when actually I just DON’T READ BRAILLE. Like, I understand the importance of making sure the blind don’t get stuck in elevators too, but can’t these buttons be also labelled in regular WORDS? Is this a Canadian thing, where we expect people to guess how the elevator works? Some elevators have words, from what I’ve seen on the interweb, but not mine.
Anyway, I got on the elevator and pressed “12” for my floor. The door shut. The elevator started moving, then it stopped. The light on the “12” button went out. Nothing happened for a second. And then the elevator DROPPED about a foot and then bounced up and down. I started stabbing the lobby button frantically but nothing happened. I looked at the buttons. Imperial Fighter or X-Wing Fighter?! How do I get these f*cking doors open?! I tried both, but nothing happened, and then the elevator dropped and bounced again. At which point, I pushed Darth Vader’s Helmet as hard as I could, not knowing whether this would result in a light sabre battle with the Dark Lord, but I would have gladly lost a hand to get off that elevator alive. A piercing alarm sounded. I kept pushing the Helmet Button and I heard a faint voice saying, “Stop pressing the alarm—we’re coming.” So I stopped for a second, and then the elevator dropped again. At which point, I resumed pressing the button and also screaming, “Help me! Get me out of here! Please! Someone help me!” I also started crying, so probably good that Darth Vader’s Helmet didn’t summon the Dark Side, because I would have been an easy kill at that moment. Suddenly the elevator doors opened, and two guys were standing there looking at me very concerned and apologetic.
Guy 1: Are you OK?
Me (crying a little bit): No.
Guy 2: What floor were you going to?
Me (crying a lot): 12.
Guy 2: Do you want me to go up with you?
Me (sobbing ridiculously): Yes.
On the way up, he apologized profusely. Apparently, he and his friend were checking for water leakage in the basement, and had locked my elevator at the exact moment that I had pushed “12”. So it was like an epic battle between floors, with me caught in the middle. By the time I got back to my office, I was in the middle of a complete panic attack. I walked in with tears rolling down my face, and was immediately surrounded by the warmth and care of my coworkers, who helped me to a chair, offered to get me water, and brought me chocolate because, as my colleague put it, “Nothing helps a panic attack more than chocolate”. And if anyone ever wonders why I work so far away from home, when I could try to find a job within easy driving distance, this is it. Except for the elevators.
So that was the scary thing, although it had a nice ending. The really cool thing that happened is this:
We recently brought on board a person whose job is, apparently, to understand what the secret agency does. I’ve had to meet with him several times, and the conversations go something like this:
Him: What’s this?
Me: It’s this.
Him: What does it do?
Me: It does this.
Him: Who’s involved?
Me: They are.
Him: What happens next?
Me: This does.
And then he fills in his fancy and complicated spreadsheet. He’s a very quiet, polite, older fellow, and doesn’t say much, at least not to me. Then the other day, he needed some information and came to my office. When he sat down, he looked at my tote bag, my hair, and a couple of other things in my office and said, “I see you really like the colour purple.” I said, yes, that it was a particular favourite. He responded with “I have something on me that I wish was purple” and he started rolling up his pant leg. And I was like, “Wait, what is happening here?!” (in my head of course, because I was alarmed, but also fascinated). He pulled the pant leg up to reveal a tattoo of the Prince symbol on his calf. Honest to god, it was the last thing I expected from this quiet, older man. Turns out, he and his wife are both huge Prince fans, and we spent the next little while reminiscing about Prince, and how wonderful he was in concert (I’d never seen him live, but my colleague had on several occasions). His biggest regret aside from getting the tattoo in solid black instead of purple, he said, was that he didn’t get VIP tickets for the last concert, because the people sitting on the corners of the stage actually got called up by Prince to DANCE with him. It was a lovely conversation, and it struck me how important it is to get to know people on more than just a spreadsheet level. And the best part was when I was telling Ken about it yesterday on the way to see a movie with T and his girlfriend, and just as I was describing how much this guy loved Prince, “Kiss” came on the radio, and all I could picture was this cool, quiet, older guy dancing his heart out.
Anyway, sorry that this week wasn’t as funny as normal, but a near-death experience can do that to you. I feel bad though, so I’ll leave you with this conversation that I had with a telemarketer last week:
Phone rings at 7:30 on Saturday morning, then stops. Ken has answered. I’m worried that it’s someone with bad news, because who the f*ck else calls your house at that time in the morning. I pick up the upstairs phone:
Heavily accented voice: …an illegal charge on your credit card. If you don’t pay right away, the police…
Me: Ken, this is a scam. Tell him to f*ck off.
Heavily accented voice: You f*ck off.
Me: No, YOU F*CK OFF.
Heavily accented voice: NO, YOU F*CK OFF.
Me: Ken, hang up the damn phone.
Yep. That’s me. Willing to engage in a swearing match with a telemarketer at 7:30 in the morning. Near death experiences have made me bold.