Thursday, February 27, 2014

I Have a Favorite Elevator

100% of the time1 I tell someone "I have a favorite elevator," their response indicates both surprise and disapproval. Yes, I recognize that your gut reaction is probably to question why I would put so much thought into vertical transportation equipment, but I would argue an elevator ride is actually the correct amount of time to contemplate about elevators.

The ones at my work have video displays run by the Captivate Network - a company which brags that their audience is made up of adult professionals who willingly trap themselves in a box where cell phones don't work multiple times each day. They have made a business out of betting that you'll have nothing better to do than watch their advertisements, celebrity gossip, and weather information during the ride. Ha! I believe they have underestimated how meta I am about my commute.

See, while I'm captive in the box which is decidedly not bigger on the inside, I wonder what the vertical acceleration rate is, whether it's the same in both directions, or if negative acceleration is slower because humans feel uneasy about the falling sensation. I wonder how much testing went into determining the optimum acceleration rates for balancing speed and passenger comfort. I think about how I would write software to control the elevators in my building, what types of sensors are required to arrive perfectly level with each floor, and whether the routing has been optimized for energy conservation or passenger waiting time. ARE THESE SERIOUSLY NOT QUESTIONS MOST PEOPLE ASK AND IF NOT WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE

Even though my walk home takes five minutes, I'm the type of person who doesn't get on an elevator if I have to pee because I expect  to be stuck for an hour, at minimum... and yes, I've been told I have "unreasonable" expectations. Recently, elevator #2 decided to stop on its way up to my tenth floor apartment. Not a graceful stop as if pausing to pick up more cheerful passengers, but more of a fuck you kind of stop where the cab simply discontinues all upward velocity. See, when you hit a button in cab #2, sure, it lights up, and it may even take your suggestion under consideration; however, at any given moment, it may decide it is no longer interested in your floor, and extinguish your precious button. Naturally, I then repressed the 10 button (that's probably supposed to be re-pressed) and it happily lit up all bright red and mocked me for about a minute while we sat quietly near the third floor.

In my free time spent waiting for elevators, I daydream about which terrifying scenario I would enjoy most. Recently, I think my favorite has been: door opens briefly revealing an elevator, followed by an immediate cable snap and the cab falling out of sight. Notice how, in this scenario, the order of events plays an important role in determining "enjoyment" versus "serious injury."

In 1945, a B-25 bomber2 crashed into the Empire State Building killing 14 people and burning a woman named Betty Lou Oliver. In an act of brilliance, the first responders sent her down to the ambulance via an "express" elevator, you might say. Immediately after the doors closed, she plunged a thousand feet to the basement transforming her from a burn victim into a more well-rounded victim. Though, her survival did earn her a Guinness World Record.

So... that would be an example of a non-enjoyable terrifying experience. Of course, even without the help of airplanes, elevator cables can and do break, but if it makes you feel any better about my safety, as a pilot, I'm way more likely to be involved in a plane crash!

Arriving at my destination floor, I have one last question: is it feasible to install an elevator where, by design, the down mode was simply freefall? If it were padded on all sides so you could just float around like the vomit comet, I would take that elevator EVERY SINGLE DAY. Although, I mean, Tower of Terror style would work too. See, I want elevators trips to be fun, while maintaining that hallmark "low risk of injury or death" quality, but besides that I'm not too picky... says the person who ranks elevators by how much or little they annoy him.

Conclusion [not found in evidence]

I have an active relationship with nine elevators - three in my apartment building, and six in my office building. Cab #17 at work is my favorite because its doors open noticeably faster than the others, and cab #21 is the worst3 because its doors open so slowly that I generally exit sideways to expedite the egress process.

See how simple and practical of an reason that is? It's almost as if I didn't even need to write this blog post.

"And then the ride ends and the doors open. Just as quickly as they began, all of my once-consuming thoughts about magic lifting devices cease... until next time, elevators! Until next time4. The End."

1 Based on a sample of one individual, white male between the ages of 25-34, political affiliation unknown.
2 B-25D's were built in Kansas City, Kansas, and I've been to Kansas.
3 Just because I didn't pick you, apartment elevator #2, doesn't mean I approve of your attitude.
4 Or until I write a blog about elevators. What the fuck was I thinking? This wasn't a good subject for a blog post. I swear it's not my fault. I've been stressed lately. I'm not getting enough sleep. The orange mints are delicious, but can't possibly be providing for all my dietary needs. This is what New York has done to me.