Monday, March 14, 2011


(Hotel Lobby, Edward Hopper, 1943, Indianapolis Museum of Art)

I adore European elevators.

Particularly the ones in small, quaint hotels.

They almost always sport one of those sliding gate doors.

The metal parts crisscross and fold like an accordion over the elevator opening.

I'm no expert on 1940's movies.

But I'm pretty sure you're going to see Cray Grant use these puppies in at least one of his films.

After the "accordion" gate is closed - by you, of course - the solid outer door slides across the elevator opening for a final lockdown.

Our personal experience has proven that nearly every one of these elevators is teeny-tiny.

We spoiled Americans love our wide open spaces, don't we?

* * * * * *

The desk clerk hands us our room keys and speaks to us in English, "Please enjoy your stay with us!"

John quickly sizes up the elevator in the lobby.

Heidi and I are busy studying destination brochures at the travel kiosk just steps away.

Bob is definitely in the "photo zone."

He is flipping through the day's picture gallery on his digital camera.

John returns to Heidi and says, "It looks like I'm going to have to send the luggage up by itself. You know the drill."

John parks a huge suitcase on the floor of the elevator.

He pushes the third floor button.

Seconds later, the door clangs shut.

John hightails it to the stairs.

He attacks them like a crazed criminal running for his life.

Meanwhile, the luggage is enjoying a luxurious ride in the elevator.


With any luck, both John and the bag will arrive on the third floor at the same time.

Before we know it, the elevator door opens.

John steps out and says, "No worries. I got to the elevator in the nick of time. The bags are safely settled in our room."

Heidi and John are computer people.

Heidi is a prolific writer who is attached to her computer the way I 'm attached to chocolate truffles.

John is a master web designer who is a whiz as a computer artist.

Their computers go everywhere they go.

It's no small sacrifice for them to part with their laptops.

They carefully lay their computer backpacks - which are chock full of a million other necessities - on the elevator floor and back away from the door.

John rises to the occasion by taking a second breathless run up those three flights of stairs.

Minutes later, he descends from above with this news: "Our computers are tucked away in the closet."

Grinning at Heidi, he adds, "You don't have to worry."

At John's insistence, Heidi takes her turn in the elevator.

She ascends like a phoenix rising out of the dusty earth.

John's adrenaline kicks in at just the right moment.

He hoofs it up the stairs like the storm trooper he is.

Bob and I look at each other with an attitude of resignation.

We're no strangers to this process.

Gentleman that he is, Bob insists that I go up first.

I enter the elevator with a sense of trepidation.

That's because I was born with a basket of brains the size of Florida.

I hand my sizable purse to Bob who is left holding the bag.

There is no way it and my body are making this trip together.

Closing the accordion door behind me, I push the third floor button.

I squirm as the elevator begins its rickety ascent.

"How do people stand standing in these airless coffins?" I wonder to myself.

I conduct a quick visual survey and determine that the elevator can not be more than four inches wide - front to back.

"There is no need to panic," I tell myself, "all you have to do is keep calm and carry on."

Then, suddenly, the elevator makes a jerky pit stop on the second floor.

I hold my breath and pray that the doors actually open.

Miraculously, they do!

Strangely, no one is standing there waiting to board.

"Why did this mobile tomb make a stop on the second floor when it didn't even have to?" I ask myself.

My anxiety is accelerating faster than a Boeing 747.

"There is no need to panic," I tell myself, "all you have to do is keep calm and carry on."


I'm no dummy.

I've seen the movies.

I've seen people eat each other for dinner after a 12 hour stretch on a stuck elevator.

"There is every reason to panic," I tell myself, "just stay crazy and pass-out."

Wait - I think I hear angels singing!

The squeaky elevator pulls to a halt at the third floor.

I step out and stare into the hallway.

But I can't see a thing.


"Keep Calm and Carry On" is a poster motto originally produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II.

Its intent was to raise the morale of the British public under the threat of invasion.

The designer of the poster is unknown.

1 comment:

  1. I think I remember an elevator like that in "Charade", one of my favorite Cary Grant movies. But it was not that tiny.