I work at Nokia. Our office is the crowning glory of a Dubai skyscraper that looks over the Arabian Sea. The Atlantis and the Burj al Arab serve as three dimensional wallpapers behind our transparent walls, and the Emirates Golf Course modestly makes itself available to pensive Nokians when they want to look into the distance. And yet… it sucks.
With about 30 floors in the building, and my light-footed self shuttling up and down constantly, I spend about half an hour twiddling my thumbs, everyday, in the elevator. Over a year, I have invested nearly 8,000 minutes observing and despising my fellow elevatees. This post is a desperate attempt to salvage some value out of these 8,000 minutes.
If the one year I spent in Cairo made me hate elevators, this last year in Dubai has made me despise elevatees. Admittedly, going from hating the game to hating the player is a moral degradation, but I hope this post adequately represents my plight and wins some sympathy. Here is what I deal with. Everyday.
1005am. I am already five minutes late to an important meeting and am cursing myself for the lack of Supermanness in my body. If I could, I would smash my way through floors and ceilings to get to my office without interruption. Ding! The elevator stops on the 6th floor. The door opens to an empty corridor. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. The door finally begins to close. Just as I am about to heave a (premature) sigh of relief, a hand appears out of thin air and wedges itself in between the doors. 1007am. The door opens painfully slowly as I see my career disappearing painfully rapidly. A man, beaming from ear to ear, walks in basking in private glory. His swagger tells the story of a man who achieved greatness by grabbing the one that nearly got away. 1009am. As I discretely try to slip into the meeting room, I am met with clicking tongues and shaking heads.
Our small group of future elevatees waits patiently for the elevator to descend from the heavens. After five minutes, the patience wears off and we begin to gather mob-like qualities. One man pumps his right fist into his left palm. Another looks up at God, praying for respite. The third one makes his way to press the button for the fifteenth time, hoping this time his will trumps technology. And amidst this anger and frustration is the nineteen-year old intern, completely oblivious to the goings-on, thoroughly involved in the affairs of her social network. When the lift finally arrives, she gets in only because the traffic shoves her in that direction. Fifteen floors and no mishaps, wow this must be a record! Meanwhile the intern continues her deep engagement with her mobile, so crookedly hunched, so vehemently engrossed, so alarmingly un-inquisitive about her immediate surroundings. When her phone loses signal she finally manages to look away from the screen and up at the floor display only to realize that she never pressed her floor button. A string of curses later, she looks at me with an annoyed glare strong enough to induce guilt in my feeble soul. Maybe in some way I was responsible for her absent-mindedness. I apologetically get out and wish her luck. She glares until the doors close shut between us.
*Note: Can’t believe I fell asleep writing this blog.. mental note that I am writing a blog, not a book…
From the instant this person walks in, he can’t take his eyes off his reflection. I duck to avoid his elbow as he wastes no time in organizing his hair. After a few moments with my nose in his armpit, he relinquishes and swivels sideways to admire his profile. Sock! His elbow gets me this time. This man is all about symmetry – he swerves the other way to pay attention to the remainder of his body. When his floor arrives, he walks backwards in earnest sadness, like he is bidding farewell to his reflection forever.
This specimen thrives in the company of colleagues, particularly in enclosed premises. Fifteen floors in the lift with him and I have a good understanding of his company’s financials, its marketing strategy, his son’s Angry Birds addiction and his typical weekend. “Why speak softly when you can scream” is his baseline logic.
A subconscious TimeWaster, the Altruist shalt not step into an elevator and leave behind his comrades. He suppresses any attempt by the doors to shut. “No need to run, I am holding the door…”
The Lazy Bum:
Able and sturdy, barely 25 years old, the dude walks into the elevator on the 14th floor. One look at him and I know he’s going to piss everyone off with what he’s going to do next. He presses #13.
The Helen of Troy:
Gorgeous lady walks in – oxygen becomes scarce as all the men start breathing heavily. Everyone in the lift arranges himself around her.
Dude, stop backing up into my belly!