The Elevators Will Always Win
People are always trying to do something big but they forget that life is made up of the little things. The elevator at work told me that. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it.
That little gem was emblazoned across the flat screen monitors the management company that runs our building put up in all the elevators. In addition to inspirational and humorous quotes, the elevators also tell us about the weather, world headlines, the stock market, and Hollywood gossip, and they even provide us with a challenging trivia question — we get the question in the morning and the answer in the afternoon. Instead of elevator music society now has elevator information.
The last thing I want after riding a crowded subway car first thing in the morning and showing up to the meaningless job I hate is to have some high-falutin’ elevator try to tell me what’s what and how I should live my life. I mean, you’re just a fucking elevator, pal. What do you know except up and down? Where do YOU get off?
And I understand the deeper, more insidious message there. Don’t think I don’t. As the day wears on, as I sit in my cubicle, stewing, I get it. I shouldn’t focus my rage at the elevators. Because that would be crazy. They’re merely a tool of the capitalist, elitist establishment bent on subduing the worker class (and more specifically, me). “People are always trying to do something big but they forget that life is made up of the little things.” Right. What you’re really saying to all the worker drones who swarm into your gigantic, phallic money tower every morning is this: be happy with your little lot in life; don’t make any trouble; focus on the task at hand; think small.
My father’s only five-foot five. I’m six-foot three. I always wished my father was a taller man.
How dare they. How dare they propagandize at me. It’s positively Orwellian — get in the futuristic elevator to go to my tiny job for the gigantic corporation, and as the doors close and the monstrosity begins to rise I’m greeted with the soothing, positive messages that the corporation wants me to see, messages promoting the best interests of the company. Messages meant to enslave me.
I sit there at my plastic counter-top desk with papers I couldn’t care less about piling up, my white-knuckle fists balled-up enraged, grinding my teeth at all of the little injustices.
Life is made up of the little things.
I’m tired of the little things. I want something big. I’m choking on the little things. Drowning in them. Sick of them. I need to rise above this tangled mess of little defeats and disappointments. I need to ascend to something bigger than this.
And that’s when I decide. Right there, in an instant.
I’m rebelling against the little things. Open revolt. I’m not doing anything small anymore. Everything’s going to be done big. The bigger the better.
I climb on top of my plastic desk and stand looking across the sea of cubicles. All those weary, defeated heads staring straight at their computer screens, mouse clicks and key strokes their entire lives.
“LOOK AT US!” I bellow as loud as possible. Startled heads turn and look, people from across the room stand to see what’s happening. “WE’RE CATTLE! SLAVES! WE’RE LETTING THEM RUN OUR LIVES!” I notice people are reacting, mostly, in one of three ways: some are pointing and laughing, some look annoyed to be disturbed, and some look as if they’re terrified by the maniac standing on the desk shouting. Both of my colleagues in the cubes on either side of mine fall into the last category.
“IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? DON’T YOU WANT ANYTHING MORE THAN THIS? DO YOU WANT TO SPEND YOUR ENTIRE LIFE HERE? THE ELEVATORS — OR, I MEAN, THE PEOPLE WHO CONTROL THE ELEVATORS — WANT US TO BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULDN’T AIM ANY HIGHER THAN THIS. SERVANTS OF THE CORPORATE GREED MONSTER. WELL I’M NOT GONNA LET THE ELEVATOR PEOPLE PUSH ME AROUND ANYMORE. I WANT SOMETHING BIGGER THAN THIS. AND SO SHOULD YOU!”
I’m taking off my shirt by the time my boss arrives, escorted by four security guards. I’ve really gotten myself worked up into a holy terror.
My boss is not pleased to see me. “McCarthy, what in God’s name are you doing!? Get down from there! Put a shirt on!” he demands of me.
“I ALWAYS WISHED MY FATHER WAS A TALLER MAN!” I shriek as I fling my shirt at my boss’s balding, silver head. He reacts to it as if it’s a wild animal, reeling backwards as the shirt covers his face, then clutching frantically, staggering about. I stand shirtless on the desk amused by this as one of the security guards steps over and sprays mace in my eyes.
Immediately it’s horrible. It’s in my eyes, nose, mouth... intense, awful burning. I close my eyes and fold up into a ball on top of the desk. The security guards move in, gather me up, and begin dragging me out of the office. I hear my boss tell me I’m fired as we’re leaving.
I’m coughing, spitting, crying, sweating, snot running out of my nose, down my chin and across my chest (still topless), trying to expel the cursed poison mace. Our burly security guards, meanwhile, are dragging me through the office, out toward reception. I struggle to open my eyes through the tears and the burning, and when I do I can see that they are ushering me toward the elevator banks.
“NOT THE ELEVATORS!” I scream in a panic, but the security guards have little patience with me. All four members of the security staff laboriously drag me, kicking, screaming, biting, and crying, into the elevator. I’m still shrieking in dismay as the elevator doors close us inside that horrible box.
Once the doors close one of the guards raps me across the jaw, presumably in an attempt to shut me up. I’m so startled by this act of aggression that I do, momentarily, shut up. I see the soothing glow from the flat screen monitor on the wall of the elevator, and struggle to focus my weary, wounded eyes at the message printed there. It’s a new quote: “Rage against the world, if you like, but quietly, or the Guardians will awake.”
“DON’T YOU SEE?!?!?” I scream in agony at the security force assembled in the tiny elevator. “THEY’RE PLAYING WITH ME NOW! MOCKING ME! LAUGHING AT MY DEFEAT.” This time I’m punched in the stomach, and as the elevator doors open I’m dragged out, gasping for breath.
I’m done resisting now. They throw me out into the street, my shirt landing on the sidewalk beside me. I’m still choking back tears, snot, and fire because of the mace. I pitifully pick up my shirt, try to wipe my face with it as best I can, and walk hunched-over down the sidewalk toward nowhere special.