From the corner of my eye I recognized her immediately as I skirted the closing elevator door. My first reaction was utter shock, but I quickly reigned that in and composed myself. From my furtive glances, I couldn't tell if she really hadn't seem me, didn't remember me or was playing the “if I pretend I can't see you, then you can't see me” game that I was engaged in. The two other passengers of the car were silent, lost in their own lives and the numbers signaling each new floor seem to light up slower and slower with each passing floor until the elevator emitted a crunching noise and lurched to a dead stop. We all braced ourselves and then the young man standing next to me reached for the red telephone in the elevator's control panel.
“Hello, yes we are in an elevator in between the fifth and sixth floors and it seems to have stopped for some reason. When do you think you will be able to get us going? What? Why don't you have a backup technician who can fix the elevator when your main guy is out sick? What are we supposed to do? There are three other people in this elevator with me. Well you better figure it out bub or you'll be sorry.”
He hung up the phone and addressed the group, “The elevator tech is out sick today, they have to find someone from the outside to come in and fix it. He has no idea when that will be.”
I slumped to the ground. She finally looked in my general direction. Our eyes locked. Could she read what was going on in my mind? Did she hear me yelling and cursing at her?
“What did I ever do to make you want to discredit me so thoroughly? We were work friends, at least I thought, and when I made another friend, you resorted to childish actions and tried to have me fired. I couldn't be friends with the two of you? You needed to spread rumors about me and talk about me behind my back to make yourself feel better? You felt it necessary to send my boss a list of reasons proving I was incompetent because I ate lunch with someone else? Do you have any idea how much you hurt me? Do you know how much pride I take in my work and that you hit me exactly where I bruise the easiest? How did you reason all of this to yourself? Did it make sense to you? Because honestly four years later, I am still scratching my head.”
She tore her eyes away first and stared at the floor. Two hours later the elevator was fixed and we all walked away. I saw her glance back at me as she exited the car and all I could do was smile at her. I could tell that this simple gesture took her by surprise and she froze in her tracks, unsure of how to respond. I walked by her and never looked back.
This was a response to the prompt-- "Think of a person you don't like, and describe what you might say if you had to share an elevator ride together. Then describe what happens when the elevator breaks down. For six hours."