I always thought of elevators as the pinnacle of human ingenuity. An invention designed to reduce physical activity? How wonderful. This illusion, however, only lasted till I met the Em-Wool elevator.
The First Encounter
I still remember the day I first ran into this troublesome machine. I had just got my newly minted Brown ID and was eager to try it out. I tentatively swiped to enter Emery Hall, the green light winked at me and I walked in feeling accomplished (freshman fall–what a simple and happy era). I had to swipe again to call the elevator. Green light once more. I stepped inside the elevator thinking I had gotten the hang of this swiping thing. The door closed. I swiped again, and waited expectantly. Nothing happened. The indicator still remained a sullen yellow. I took a deep breath, disappointed at my interrupted streak and swiped again. Still no green light. I swiped one more time. No change. I then jumped up and down like Tom from Tom and Jerry, and after approximately 50 more swipes got the elevator to work. I sank back, sweating, I knew then, this elevator was going to be trouble.
When using the elevator to go from a higher floor to the ground floor you don’t need to swipe. Before you start celebrating, let me tell you that descending using this machine presents its own set of problems. Several students have blithely entered the elevator with the aim of getting to the ground floor but instead found themselves stuck in the uncertain limbo of the elevator shaft. I once saw a fire engine and a whole posse of DPS officers summoned to extract some unfortunate students who entered the elevator but never came out (I mean, they did eventually of course, but not nearly as quickly as they would have wanted to). With stories such as these floating in my mind, it’s hard to enter the elevator without some trepidation. The journey down is harrowing, the contraption shudders and shakes as if chuckling at some morbid thought it just had. It hurtles down with such speed that I fear that it will forget to put the brakes on and will crash in the basement (which appropriately enough is the trash room, making collection of the debris so much easier). In my mind this fiendish device only needs one thing more: the mechanical voice of its sibling, the JWW elevator — “Going down.”
The Elevator With Arthritis
Somewhere in the middle of the semester I realized that the elevator, with all it’s follies and foibles, had developed another problem — arthritis. Its nuts and bolts creaked and groaned more with every single trip. When it ascended the floors it made a strange and painful grunting noise like me trying to do a pull-up (unfortunate analogy). I decided to investigate the matter and found that our elevator was positively ancient. It was last inspected in 2011. That’s 3 years, probably a lifetime in elevator years. When I found out about this I seriously considered switching to the stairs. I immediately rejected the idea on principle. If I took to the stairs it would be an insult to humanity’s technical progress. Poor Otis worked on making elevators safe for so many years just so that we wouldn’t have to take the stairs. It was his life work, we can trust our lives with that. Though I had won this moral victory, I still felt a little uneasy. I just hope they inspect the elevator soon.
A Splash of Paint, Still Not Enough
As if someone had heard my thoughts, the next day I found the elevator gleaming in a coat of new paint. I hate to dampen the enthusiasm of the authorities, but the problem with the elevator isn’t exactly an aesthetic one (though I think the new paint is a trifle too bright a blue). The problem with this machine is that it doesn’t like humans and is now too old to care about self-preservation either. Something must be done soon otherwise I fear we all will be “going down.”