99 Problems

The daily struggles of urban living as a quadriplegic explained one by one. It's so much more than not being able to find a parking space.

99 Problems — #14 Elevators Can Be Unpredictable–Dicks Are Not

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Broken ElevatorsFeeling balanced and hypnotized by the high that comes from bending and stretching, Cory and I left our private yoga session only to be slapped in the face with reality. The elevator button would not light up. After a few minutes of waiting, Cory went up the stairs to see what was going on. The security guard couldn’t explain it, he just yelled, “It not working. No power.”

I overheard Cory from below the two story marble stair case, “Okay, but my wife is down in the basement in a wheelchair. Do you know when the power will return?”

I had just taken the elevator one hour prior.

“What you doing in the basement,” said the grey-haired man, leaning over the marble railing. He appeared highly irritated by my presence, and also highly irritated by life.

“I was doing yoga?”

The grumpy old man wrinkled his brow, scoffed and then walked away. I turned to Cory who was standing between us and at the halfway point of the stairs with his arms out to the side in confusion.

“What’s he doing?” I asked.

“Nothing,” Cory replied.

“Jesus. Is there someone he can call to help you bring up my wheelchair to the top? You can carry me first… is there is a chair up there I can sit in?”

Cory returned up the half flight of stairs, scoped the scene and then slowly walked down the steps towards me.

“There is a chair.”

“But is he calling someone?”

“I don’t know. I think so.”

“Why did he look at me like I was crazy just then? What else does he think I’m doing down here in this dirty basement? Stealing old broken refrigerators?”

“I don’t know,” Cory answered, deflated. Then with one scoop he picked me up, carried me up two flights of stairs until we arrived in the building lobby. Just past the security station—where the old man watched incredulously–and next to the wall was a small, metal chair with a black back and no arm rests. Cory gingerly placed me in the seat as a small Latino man approached us.

“You need something?” he asked politely.

Cory explained the situation to what appeared to be the building maintenance man, and then explained it again. For some reason men refuse to believe my wheelchair weighs 400-pounds.

“We’re going to need more people,” Cory stated, finally getting to the point.

As Cory and the man disappeared down the marble stairs I watched the security guard tell person after person, “No. Elevator broke.”

Some people shrugged it off and started heading up the stairs. Others inquired about its status. And then one man entered the lobby in grey slacks, a coral dress shirt, shined shoes and aviator glasses. His walk—high swinging of arms with head held high—suggested he was somebody. Or more like he thought he was somebody. I watched him push the gold UP button beside the elevator, and then I watched him do it again when the light didn’t turn on. Eventually he turned to the security guard who was pretending not to notice the commotion.

“What’s going on here?” the business man asked in an accent that was not quite Long Island, more Jersey Shore.

Upon learning the news of the broken elevator the man stomped his feet onto the floor like a child throwing a tantrum.

“When is it going to be fixed?” he demanded.

The security guard unsympathetically shrugged his shoulders, shook his head side to side and turned his back on the guy, which made me feel a little better. At least the abrupt aloofness was a feeling he shared with everyone.

“You want me to walk up six flights of stairs?” he shouted. “No way. That’s ridiculous.”

Out of the corner of my eye and on the other side of the small lobby, I caught a glimpse of my husband struggling to carry my wheelchair with the help of two other men.

You have to be fucking kidding me, I thought. If I wasn’t too verbally paralyzed by the fear of falling off the tiny chair I was clinging to I would have said something. Instead I looked back over at Cory who was oblivious to the scene that was happening before me. He looked up at me, smiled and gave me a thumbs up before running down the stairs again to pick up the heavy battery packs he took out to make the chair lighter for the men helping him. I turned back to the man-child that was now on his cell phone, explaining his horrifying situation to some poor soul on the other end of the line.

“I’ve got to go. The fucking elevators aren’t working and I can’t get to where I’m going.”

Frozen in the chair, I stared at the man, mouth agape, and watched him walk outside the lobby door still complaining about the inconvenience of a broken elevator. On his way out he walked right passed Cory shoving the batteries into their place on my wheelchair. Needless to say, he didn’t notice.

“Did you hear that guy making a scene about the elevators?” I asked Cory as he was picking me up to place me back in my chair.

“Yeah, I overheard something about it.”

“What is wrong with people?” I asked. “I wanted to shout, ‘Hey Dick. Sorry about the inconvenience but um… my husband just had to carry me and my 400-pound wheelchair up two flights of stairs. I think you can walk your perfectly healthy legs up six.’”

After setting me down onto my cushion, Cory looked at me eye to eye and smiled.

“How’s your skirt? Are you comfortable?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you. You’re amazing. Did you know that?” I said. Then I grabbed his face and gave him a much deserved kiss on the lips.

As we exited through the lobby door, hand in hand, I spotted the man standing on the street next to a smoker. He was telling her about his dilemma now that the elevators aren’t working.

“Yeah, looks like my whole day is now ruined.”

“What a dick,” I said to Cory as we passed him. “Yoga was fun.”

“Yeah, yoga was good,” he agreed.


Posted Friday, November 15th, 2013 in 99 ProblemsTags: , , ,

3 Responses to “99 Problems — #14 Elevators Can Be Unpredictable–Dicks Are Not”

  1. kathy kiely says:

    great story, jana! and as an editor, i found it very well constructed. 🙂

  2. Gerri Helms says:

    That dick was beyond a dick – he was a bona-fide asshole.

    Good thing I wasn’t with you, I may not have been as genteel as your wonderful husband. I would have been more like the asshole in your defense.

  3. Amanda Hawkins says:

    That is SO crazy, he must lead such a miserable life. You and Cory on the other hand, rockstars!

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