Elevators & Stairs by Steve Castro
Elevators are products of elegance. A hotel guest on the upper east side of New York City, to use an example, can expect to be greeted by a white glove elevator operator as the elevator doors open in anticipation of the guest’s ascension to the penthouse suite. “Sir, would you prefer Bach or Schubert?” the elevator operator would ask as the eminent hotel guest enters, staring into the magnificent mirror that was expertly cleaned with an old edition of Chicago Tribune and Windex. Stairs, on the other hand, are products of inconvenience. There is a very high probability that if one hotel guest is using the stairs as opposed to the elevator, then another hotel guest is simultaneously climbing out of his hotel’s bedroom window down a stainless steel ladder towards the safety of the local fire department’s Mack fire engine. Hotel guests who use a 20% discount coupon they were given at Denny’s to pay for their hotel room are accustomed to using the stairs. After leaving Denny’s and walking to the hotel’s front desk, which is in a separate building three blocks away from their actual hotel room, they walk out with their hotel key, as opposed to an electronic hotel key card, and they climb the burdensome stairs, which are located outside of the hotel, into their tobacco-stained hotel room.
If you are a world class athlete and you slip and fall while riding in an elevator, the chances of death or paralysis are slim, even if you are extremely drunk or high. If the same Olympic athlete slips and falls while walking down from the top of the stairs, the chances of a serious injury are very high, even if the Olympic athlete is sober and has previously passed every single International Olympic Committee drug test.
The difference between pushing someone who’s in front of you very hard from behind while riding in an elevator and pushing the person in front of you very hard who’s walking down the stairs is like the difference between Michael Jordan and The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Elevators are instruments of caution. I remember once stepping into an elevator with a 1,000-pound weight limit. It is good to know the weight limit of such a fascinating mechanical invention. For example, let us say that on my way to the fifth floor to inform my boss that I was now his boss, that particular elevator with the 1,000-pound weight limit stopped on the second floor and a family of four greeted me with hungry eyes before trying to board the elevator. Having been duly warned by the elevator inspector’s weight notification, I would immediately say, “Stop, do not come into this elevator. This particular elevator can only hold 1,000 pounds. I myself sir, weigh 185 pounds. You, sir, weigh close to 300 pounds. Your wife weighs about 220. And your two young boys, I’m assuming, weigh close to 200 pounds each. I am merely using my powers of observation to save our lives. Within two minutes, the elevator should be back and you can ride it safely down.” The fat bastard, ever the polite gentleman, would smile and say, “The young Puerto Rican fellow is correct. I thank you kindly, Señor, for potentially saving all of our lives. We will use the stairs; it will be a great form of exercise for us. Good day to you, sir.” I would then immediately reply, “My dear fellow, nothing would be more dreadful than walking down the stairs without being able to see your feet. You would certainly lose your balance and I’m sure you’ve heard of Humpty Dumpty.” His wife would then say, “The Mexican lad is right; your lovely stomach prevents you from seeing your beautifully round feet, and you may indeed fall to your death down those horrible stairs.” She then would speak to me, “Young man, thank you for your advice; we will wait until this elevator returns.” We would then wave goodbye to one another as the whale of a woman takes two glazed donuts out of her purse and hands them to her twin boys. I would release my grip on the button that had allowed me to leave the door open this whole time, and arrive, safe and sound, on the fifth floor. Stairs, on the other hand, are instruments of arrogance. Let the whole world join us at once in reaching the heavens; we’re secure and don’t have a weight limit, said the elaborate and massive stairway to heaven attached to the tower of Babel right before it came crumbling down.
Steve Castro’s work was most recently featured in Penduline and has been published in This Great Society (Canada), Hobart (print), Grey Sparrow Journal, Underground Voices, ASKEW, Splash of Red, Kindling, Scythe Literary Journal, The Broken Plate, the Dublin Quarterly (Ireland), The Tower Journal, Everyday Genius, Andar21 (Spain), Cricket Online Review, etc. He is a member of the New England Poetry Club, founded in 1915 by three Pulitzer Prize-winning poets: Amy Lowell, Conrad Aiken, and Robert Frost.