A special kind of smart-ass…

So it was that I ended up in the parking lot on a Thursday morning just shy of 8 AM. The meeting was scheduled for 8 AM and I knew I had to hurry to make it on time. My workplace campus requires that I take 2 lifts, one to get to level 0 from the parking lot and then one of 6 elevators to get to the 7th floor where the meeting room was booked. After quickly negotiating the parking lot one which strangely had trays full of vadas and some rice bath abandoned outside its door like an offering in a temple, I ended up at the ground floor.

The elevator arrived from somewhere and I got in with a cleaner pushing a pail of water and a mop, another office boy and a female employee of one of the companies. I pressed 7 and they pressed some intermediate numbers all the way till 5. The door started closing and I egged it on by pressing the ‘close door’ button which looks like this >|<. The door opened. This usually happens when someone outside is pressing the elevator button. I looked out to see one guy lounging stylishly by the elevator door. I asked him not to press the button. He said he didn't press any button.

I pressed the door-close again. The closing door opened up again. I looked out and saw that guy giving the same pose with one hand over the elevator button. "Don't press the button" I called out. "I am not" he said, irritated now. The door started closing and opened again. Same sequence as before. Me flustered more, him getting annoyed. Repeat process. This time tensions rising.

The sweeper suggested "The button you are pressing is for open, not close". I showed her the other button and said that’s the one that opens. The office boy, who was more of an office uncle, agreed with me. But I decided to observe the guy outside while the door closed and this time the door did and we were on our way up.

Now, the campus I work in is notorious for bad lifts, apart from a disgusting food court. Also apart from mice running along the cubicles. And, making people walk one kilometer from the gate in the Sun. And smell of gutter and sewage while walking. But coming back to lifts, buttons for floor numbers go missing almost all the time and the principle of redundancy usually helps – each lift has two panels – and the same number is never missing from both at the same time. In the not-entirely-unusual cases where the same number is missing from both, usually a circuit like merging of metal foils would be there and pressing that warily usually works. Sometimes, very rarely, you’ll just see a hole instead of a number. In extremely rare cases both the panels will have holes for the same number. Once in the past 2 years that number happened to be 0 and people had to get out at the 1st floor and walk down one floor. No kidding.

Given this history, the lift moved up along and after the 5th floor I was alone. It got to the 7th floor. As the door slid open, I pressed the close button again ‘>|<'. It continued opening. Just before getting out, I pressed the 'open button' '’. It started closing, before I pressed the close button to open it and got out. It takes a special kind of smart-ass to mess things up like this. I did not even bother writing to my company facilities. Some quirks are better left to be.


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