Entering S-Meg Tower yesterday morning, I did what every one of the other 6.99999 million stories in the Naked City does every day, and repeatedly jabbed the elevator call button – bang bang bang bang. Four times works best. I will sometimes risk five when in a real hurry, but in my experience the fifth prod is as likely to slow the thing down as speed it up. (I have never worked out why in other countries pressing the button more than once makes no difference.)
Thanks to the effectiveness of this rapid-fire, digital-stabbing trick, I was almost immediately entering a lift, passing a uniformed delivery girl with a UPS bag as she exited, and punching floor number and ‘close door’ buttons with a devastating one-two that wouldn’t have shamed Muhammad Ali. Then, as I leant back to admire myself in the mirror, I noticed that I was not alone. A short, middle-aged man carrying a bundle of newspapers was with me, looking up at the LED numbers with dismay as we hurtled past the first dozen storeys en route to the top of the building. “Wah – I wanted to get out on the ground floor,” he complained. I gave him a good-natured ‘that’s life’ shrug. What could I do? Some people are born slow, poor guy.
Little did I know just how tragic his plight was to be.
This morning, at exactly the same time, after the exact same four thrusts of the call button, the elevator door slides promptly open in the foyer. He is still inside! Still clutching the newspapers! Naturally, I stand to one side and hold the doors open for him as he finally steps out, too dazed to make eye contact after his nightmarish 24-hour ordeal, trapped in a perfectly functioning elevator by faster and sprightlier people with things to do. I will make a point of watching out for him in future.