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University Library: Elevator Rage

November 7, 2016
(image via wikimedia)

(image via wikimedia)

The dorm elevators always scared me a little bit.  They were slow, they were noisy, and they moved in herky-jerky motions that didn’t feel natural when you were stuck inside.  On Friday and Saturday nights, drunk students would stomp up and down to rock the elevator even more.  I’m not sure what the drunks hoped to accomplish.  If they had managed to break the elevator, they would have plunged to their likely deaths, but at least they were having a good time.

Early in the first semester, some drunk guy puked in one of the elevators on a Saturday night, and custodians didn’t work the dorms on Sunday, so the vomit stayed in the elevator for about 36 hours.  This caused a chain reaction of events that I don’t want to describe because it’s disgusting and I’m not that kind of storyteller.  The point is that even after the puke was eventually cleaned, the scent stayed around, especially when you were enclosed inside the elevator.

One afternoon (days or weeks after the puking incident, I ‘m not sure because this happened 30 years ago) my roommate Kirk and I were heading out to class.  Sometimes I would rather take the stairs than stand in the elevator, but Kirk always razzed me about that, so inside the elevator I went.

“This sucks,” I said at the faint scent of lingering puke.

“It’s in your mind,” Kirk said.

“The mind doesn’t just make up smells,” I said.  “It’s still pukey in here.”

Kirk breathed in deeply with a wide smile.  “Nope.  It’s perfectly fresh air.”

“You’ve lost your sense of smell,” I said.

“I’m perfectly normal,” Kirk said.

“I know where your face has been,” I said.  “At the very least, you have smell tolerance.”

“Good point,” Kirk said.  “But it’s still in your mind.”

We were still arguing when the elevator stopped at the 6th floor and two girls stepped in.  One girl had caked way too much makeup on, and the other girl was tall with spiky hair.  They stopped in mid-conversation when they saw us.  I was used to being ignored whenever I was in an elevator, but I wasn’t normally a conversation-stopper, so I wondered if my fly was down or if I had anything dangling from my nose.

When the elevator doors shut, the girl with the caked makeup said with authority:

“You’re an asshole.”

When I looked up, I could tell from the way the girl was eyeballing Kirk what was going on, and I felt an awkward moment coming.

“You said you’d call me,” the girl said.  “Why didn’t you call me?”

Kirk actually blushed.  I’d never seen him turn red before.  I didn’t need an explanation.  This was a girl that Kirk had brought back to our room, and I guess they’d both been drunk, and then after they were done, Kirk had said he’d call her but Kirk rarely went back to the same girl twice.

The elevator doors finally closed, but the elevator hadn’t started moving.

Kirk shrugged.  “I changed my mind.”

“You’re an asshole.”

“Then why would you want me to call you back?”

This confrontation wouldn’t have been so bad out in the open area, like a lobby or the commons where both Kirk and the girl could pass each other by.  Instead, we were trapped in a rickety elevator.  I held my breath and hoped that the elevator wouldn’t get stuck, but we finally moved.

“So Friday night didn’t mean anything to you,” the girl said.

Kirk didn’t say anything.  C’mon elevator, I thought, hurry up.

“You just thought I’d be another girl for you to use,” she continued.

I almost told her to get herself checked out at the clinic, but I didn’t want to become part of the scene.

While the girl kept badgering Kirk about not calling her, the spikey girl made eye contact with me and grinned, but I looked away.

Don’t get me wrong.  Under normal circumstances, I’d appreciate a public confrontation as much as anyone, but I didn’t want to be in the middle of one.  It’s only funny if you’re not involved, and I had to live with Kirk.  Any public confrontation he was involved with could have ramifications for me, and I was already struggling in college.

“If you weren’t going to call me back, then don’t tell me you’re going to call me back,” the girl said.

“I’m not going to call you, alright?” Kirk said.  “You happy now?”

That was it.  I could see the girl’s eyes twitch, her lips slowly purse, and I knew exactly what she was going to say before she said it.

“Ugh!  You are such an asshole!”

That wasn’t quite what I thought she was going to say (I thought she was going to say the f-word), but it was close enough.

The elevator door opened, and Kirk and I burst out.  We were usually gentleman, but we wanted no part of any post-one-night-stand argument and the puke smell was getting to me.  The  makeup girl almost followed Kirk out, but the spiky girl, still grinning, linked her arm to her friend and eased her out of the elevator.

“C’mon,” she kept saying.  “Class starts in seven minutes.”

Once they had cleared the lobby, Kirk turned toward them and said, “Thanks, Spike.”

The spiky girl opened her mouth, then closed it and shook her head, nudging her friend forward.  The makeup girl cast one final glance at Kirk, and then allowed herself to be dragged away.  The spiky girl said something in the other girl’s ear, and they both laughed loudly enough for us to hear it.

“She really thought you were going to call her,” I said.  I almost felt bad for her, and I rarely felt bad for Kirk’s one-nighters.  They were always drunk and usually obnoxious when I met them, so it was puzzling to see this other side of the situation.

“Yeah, I lied to her,” he said.  “It’s better than telling her ‘it’s been fun, now get out’.”

Kirk and I took a different exit from the lobby, even though we seemed to be heading in the same direction as the two girls.  We were just giving them a head start and would walk slowly enough not to catch up with them.

At the time, this seemed like just a really awkward moment in an elevator, but I realized later (I’m not sure how much later) that it wasn’t.  When that strange thing happened to me at the University Library later on that semester, this elevator incident came back to…

Well, I’ll eventually get to that.


To be continued in University Library: Going Incognito .

Or you can read University Library from the beginning at University Library: State School.


From → Dysfunctileaks

  1. Ah to be boys. We girls will never get your antics .

  2. I admire the way she confronted him about it – if it had been me, I’d have just glared at him or used the stairs! I wonder if he learned from it and changed his ways. Great story

  3. Nice solid writing. Makes me want to know more and damn, I can smell the smell too…

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