Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Elevator Action Jackson Five

The Super Bowl bye week is an interesting time in America. Football fans across the country have just come off the most exciting Sunday of the year, and in their staunch refusal to watch the Pro Bowl, will wait another week to satisfy their thirst for helmet to foam-dome tackles.

Yes, it's the week we realize that the networks' mid-season line ups are disappointing as always, and the "State of the Union" has once again crowned Miss Illinois its champion.

She lives just off Michigan, too.

The nation collectively twiddles its thumbs, looks around the room disinterested, and engages in a two week long version of the waiting game during this bye week, eager to see what commercials they'll find on the other side. It's as if we're stuck in some sort of limbo -- the white cloud, no-clue-where-I'm-headed kind, not the fun, Caribbean, how-low-can-I-go kind...although, the two should consider joining forces. Nothing like Red Stripe-fueled dancing prior to the afterlife. That's what I always say.

The whole period of inactivity is akin to one's time spent in an elevator -- a transport system of which I am now somewhat of an expert. I'll explain in just one second. First you'll have to let me just reach across your shoulder, and press the button for Fun. Almoooossssst got it......


Readers, it's time that you and I had a talk about getting high. I know you think that it'll be scary and dangerous, but don't worry. As long as you understand what you're getting into, it can be neat way to pass the time. I promise, at some point you'll come down, and everything will be fine.

Outside of Disney World, elevators are generally a dull, boring place. M. Night Shyamalan certainly proved that last year with Devil. Yet it is here where we face life's tough questions, such as: What is with that close door button?

This circular selection has been around for decades, and in that span, it has been pressed billions of times by hurried businessmen, doctors, and kids who just can't hold it in that much longer. The design appeals to all ages and literacy levels, foregoing words for two hieroglyphic triangles pointing towards each other, locked in a never ending game of Chicken.

The real issue, though, is if the damned thing actually works. After hours of research, we here at the Sometimes have found that the close door button is undoubtedly a placebo. It works in a strange manner -- simply creating a way to pass the time until the doors are good and ready to close, while simultaneously generating the illusion of work being performed. Ingenious.

Ah, to be newly married

Closing doors is one thing, but the elevator experience also provides a forum to opening ears. The gentle ambiance oft-reserved for museum scenes in movies is actually the distant cousin of, you guessed it, elevator music.

The tunes, played at the non-Spinal Tap setting of 3, are a welcomed relief from the deafening silence experienced between asking "What floor?" and saying "Have a nice day!"

The playlift is made up mostly of muzak. The genre has the kind of lite songs you've only heard at Great Clips, but still somehow know all the words to. It's mostly peaceful, but if you're lucky, you may catch young Michael, Tito, and the lesser ones singing you songs about the alphabet. Well, at least the first 3 letters.

Sadly, I've noticed that fewer and fewer elevator venues are choosing to play anything at all. It's probably because, these days, everyone is always wearing headphones.

The next time you find yourself in a quiet ascent to the 9th floor, do your fellow man a solid. Take out the ear buds, set your iPod to full volume, and blast the hell out of Come On Eileen for the duration of your trip. You won't regret it.

I wonder if she'll say anything

Now, not all Elevator Action is conducted on your old Nintendo Entertainment System. There will be times in your life when you're ready to board the mighty beast, only to notice a collection of people waiting inside. It is here when your inner critic takes over, and you do a quick body scan of the other riders. You know, the up-down.

At The Sometimes, our concern for the well being of our readers is somewhere in the upper half of our priorities. With that said, keep in mind the following rule-of-thumb: When entering an elevator, evaluate all current passengers as if you have the knowledge that in a few moments, you're going to be stuck there for a while.

Don't try to figure out a reason as to why that would happen, as time is of the essence.

First, find whoever it is you're most attracted to, and stand next to them. In case this turns out to be a Chilean Miners situation, surely you'll need some lovin'. Plus, you don't want to get stuck with the smelly one, do you?

Second, identify what roles you want to assign to everyone once you come to a halt. By being vocal and delegating the work load, you'll seem like a leader and a hero without doing anything of real consequence whatsoever.

Finally, stay side adjacent and don't get stuck in the middle. Real estate will be at a premium during the stoppage, and in the land of metal walls, the leaning man is king.

Follow these rules so that you'll feel less guilty about judging everyone, and to make the whole ride go by that much faster.

This bye week may have left us Chicagoans with feelings of regret and jealously, but let's not worry about football, and instead take the literal high road in our boxy, metal friends.

I'd love to stay and chat about other things but, you know the kids are at home, and the wife, she's always a....

....close door, damnit!
Tapan Jones

[Art, as always, by Thomas Glass Jr.]
Click to maximize the pictures!