Riding in an elevator with strangers has proven fruitful conditions for some of the most awkward social interactions and conversations I’ve ever had. The first came during the first week of moving in. I had a shopping buggy stuffed with my burnt orange comforter, cream yellow sheets, and pillows and found myself riding in an elevator with a young woman. I’m prone to laughing at random, sometimes it’s about a current something at that moment, but often my mind spontaneously decides to recall an experience or a statement that sends me into laughter. Anywhere from a short giggle to a full, robust laugh. As the elevator started, I thought about how odd it was to be pushing my oversized comforter and sheets in a tiny grocery buggy let alone riding up an elevator with it. I laughed gently, and the woman looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said, “Case of the sillies?” with a bit of a skewed tone. So, I told her why I was laughing, but I suppose I was more amused because she didn’t think it as funny. I realize that when I have a random bought of laughter that most people are either insecure or narcissistic enough to think it’s about them, and really, it’s almost to the point that I’m willing to voice that observation to them and remind them how ridiculous they are for being either or both, especially with a stranger. Really, so close.
The next strange encounter came when I was on the elevator with an attractive man, sweaty from exercising, and just so delicious for my eyes. I was elated to learn we’re on the same floor, granted I’ve never run into him since. During the brief ride up, we said some barely audible ‘hello’es and not even halfway up, my flip flop breaks. Damn, cheap Old Navy shoes. The door opens, I think he waits for me to go first since I’m a woman, and I just smile and motion for him to go ahead because I surely don’t want this hot piece to see me attempt to walk on a broken flip flop before saying screw it, and walking barefoot to my door. Having no other shoes in the apartment, I had to make an unplanned trip to my dad’s, but first, had to figure out how to McGiver my flops. No duck tape. No scotch tape. No super glue. No puddy. So, I find myself using band aids to secure the strap, which lasted long enough to get to the elevator, the first floor, and almost out the second set of double doors before breaking again.
Another awkward conversation came began at the entrance doors when I opened a door for a middle aged man carrying several grocery bags. He said, “Don’t worry, I handle big loads all the time.” I nodded and pushed the button for the elevator, thinking maybe I should have considered a detour to the cafe/market to evade this elevator ride coupling. Once again he reiterates his previous statement, “I’m used to carrying heavy things all the time. This is a light load today. But I carry heavier a good bit.” I’m starting to think this is an odd come on, like he’s using ‘heavy things’ as a secret metaphor for his capability to handle a non-skinny woman, i.e. me. Then I picture him hoisting me up against a wall, and briefly imagine how strange that encounter would be…or would it? Dammit, Priscilla, gross, stop it. And I shake the image out of my head. He says he just got back from the gym, goes every day. “Oh, I remember the gym,” I laugh. Luckily, the door opens, and I say, “Be sure to take some ibuprofen for inflammation.” He gawks, “Only natural stuff. Ginger for starters…” and then he starts listing off a list of natural supplements as the door shuts. Oh my freakin’ god, why do I say anything.
And though this isn’t an ‘elevator’ conversation, it still occurred in my apartment complex. I stop by the the market aka well stocked convenience store to purchase a cheeseburger and a soda. As I wait, the clerk asks if she can ask me a questions. Sure, I suppose. I’ve only seen her one other time before this to order a hot dog that ended up being cold. This leads to a ten minute diatribe of her helping out her boyfriend’s cousin, a recovering drug addict, who moved in with them but refuses to pay for rent though she’s on the lease. Somehow this then turns into her living all the way out in past Ravanell, doesn’t make jack squat at the market, has threatened to quit but they won’t give her raise, and how in two year’s she’s helped them turn the market from a filthy, piss poor stop to a clean, organized place of business. “Who do you think suggested the slurpie machine, or the baked goods, or these snack stands?” Really…like seriously…you’re priding yourself on a freakin’ slurpie machine? Oh, jesus, is my cheeseburger ready…
I find it odd that dozens of seconds in an elevator ride can produce some of the strangest conversations, but perhaps that brief space and time of the ride reveals people as they are, no frills or facades, just the raw…and for once, I wish they’d keep it to themselves. Unless, I up the ante on awkward, and do a photo series of people in the elevator…haha, oh then no one would ever talk to me in that place.