1. Someone said this to me the other day: People always seem to press the elevator button again even if someone else has already pressed it. And I thought about it for a while. It’s true; I do it too. It’s as if people don’t trust the button that’s already glowing. As if they don’t see you standing there too. As if they only believe when they do it for themselves. After that conversation, I couldn’t stop seeing glowing elevator buttons in my head until I went to sleep.
2. I’m never quite so aware of the amount of space I take up as I am when I enter a crowded elevator. I feel so conspicuous. I squish my back against the wall, press my arms to my side, and try my best to not breathe, not wanting my diaphragm to expand even a little bit. I don’t want to touch other people, and they look at me like they don’t want to be touched or brushed up against either. I want to be small, I want to collapse in upon myself, I want to disappear.
3. Elevators are nothing crazy—just a way of getting from one place to the next faster. Like escalators or conveyor belts. Except nobody’s afraid of those. So what it is about elevators that scares people—is it the enclosed space? The height? The fear of falling? I’m not afraid of elevators, though. Most of the time, I don’t think about it. The falling, I mean. But every so often I do, and I can’t shake the thought. The cable is going to snap. The elevator is going to stall and nobody will hear me yelling.
4. I heard another story told about elevators. There was this woman was deathly afraid of them, and she would avoid them at all costs, taking the stairs or just avoiding tall buildings altogether. But then her boyfriend moved to an apartment on the thirtieth floor, and she knew she had to do something. So she went to some sort of class for getting over her fear at the Phobia Treatment Center. And the treatment worked. Apparently the way they did it was they made her get into an elevator, and her family and friends waited on each floor, ready to push her back in if she tried to get off. She kept trying to get out of the elevator and they kept pushing her back in and by the end of the whole thing it wasn’t the elevators she was afraid of anymore.
5. Maybe this all started with that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book from when I was a kid. You know the one, with all the pictures. I remember one story, or the ending at least: a man goes to get into a crowded elevator at work. “Room for one more,” a strange person inside says. The man has a terrible feeling, and doesn’t go in. When the elevator closes, it plummets downward, and he hears shrieks and screams as everyone inside is killed. I still think about that sometimes, wondering if this ride will be my last, and I imagine the screams.
6. I remember the first time I went on the Tower of Terror. It wasn’t scary. Or it was only the fun kind of scary; the haunted elevator didn’t bother me. Maybe it was because I knew that a drop was coming—I wasn’t exactly sure when it was going to plummet, but I was absolutely sure that it was going to happen. And when it happened, I felt safe. We find comfort in whatever certainty we can.
7. Hold the door, please— but most people don’t. Sometimes they do it with a half-murmured sorry, more often with none at all, not even acknowledging. Eyes down, keep your distance, don’t get any closer, don’t make this any longer than it needs to be.
8. Nobody getting on or off here. So we keep going without hesitation…
14. Why do so many buildings just skip floor 13? Maybe if you act like something isn’t there, it becomes not real. But maybe you’re just calling something by a different name. You have to face the truth eventually.
15. Sometimes, if I’m the only one on an elevator, I press the buttons all the way up and all the way down before I get off. I’m sure that it pisses a lot of people off, that they grumble about how some asshole just messed up their day. It’s selfish, but I don’t want the elevator to skip any floors. To pretend they don’t exist. I want it to stop at every one, and wait for even just a moment before it moves on.