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Published June 03, 2008 More Info »
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Published June 03, 2008

My worst fear? The elevator. Well, not the elevator itself, per se. And not the fear of cables snapping to a deathward dive. Or that Emilio Estevez is on top, hacking laptop in tow. Or that we get stuck between floors while the words, "Pop quiz hotshot" linger in the air. No.

More specifically, my number one fear is getting stuck in an elevator… with other human beings. It's a claustrophobic box resembling a circle of Hell. Worse than Craig Wasson in a tunnel. The best you can hope for is to be stuck with someone you've never seen before. This means zero familiarity. You can take advantage of "the head nod" or "the fake smile" and be done with the interaction. But if it's someone you kind of half know, it's a situation worthy of loathing. You're forced into the indignity of small talk where the topics are lobby carpet installation or worse – the mail lady really taking her time lately.

And God help you if you get stuck in there with the doorman. The doorman needs to stay in his rightful place: Near the door, where we have a really nice thing going. In that safe haven, I can walk past him everyday with a quick "How ya doin" and continue through the revolving doors to the real world where there are no doormen.

But if he should, for whatever reason, venture into the elevator, it's a collision of worlds I can't comprehend. In an instant, our innocuous, three-second banter is thrown out the window, replaced with the realization that we know nothing of each other at all. Together we become pull string dolls. Him: How are you sir? Me: Good man, have a good one.

This back and forth does not a 42-floor ride make. I quickly wish for a long broomstick to force open the ceiling. Then I could jump from the top of the elevator to the lack of awkwardness that a quick death provides. At the very least, I wouldn't have to pretend to care about someone for 40 seconds. I would simply leave a bizarre and utterly unexpected death for my loved ones to contend with.

And what a trade-off it would be.

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