Lunk in an
It's Wednesday morning and
I arrive for the third day of my current temp job. Five or six people
get on the elevator with me, we all punch our respective floor buttons,
and begin to rise. The bell rings and the doors open, and I step out.
elevator-riding, I just get out when the door opens, regardless of what
floor I pressed. In this case I get out on the fourth floor, one
level below my intended destination. Were there not a crowd of
people already in the elevator, no doubt looking at the back of my head
as I stand there, and also an entire office of strangers who have looked
up from their desks and are staring at me, I would simply jump back into
the elevator before the doors shut, and ride up to five. But I cannot do
this, of course: I would look like a fool. So I just stand there while
the elevator closes behind me and takes itself, and the uncaring
bastards inside, to the next floor.
I have to do something. I
confidently turn right and begin walking with the air of a man who has
important business here on the fourth floor, and lo and behold, I am
saved! A drinking fountain! Right in front of me! Actually, I have
walked halfway past it and am forced to execute a sharp yet completely
believable and casual looking ninety-degree right hand turn, and then I
bend over and take a drink from the ice-cold waters of the fountain. Not
only does this give me a reason for being on the fourth floor (for
everyone knows the water on the fourth floor is the tastiest in the
building), but as I drink I have also cleverly given myself time to plan
my next move.
My lips are numb and my
stomach swollen with water when I finally leap back into action. I can't
wait any longer; my first plan (an earthquake swallows the building and
therefore relieves me of my embarrassing predicament) has failed to come
to fruition. I can't drink any longer either, due to the laws of nature.
I stand upright, wincing at the stiffness of my back, and then spot my
salvation. The stairs! Of course! I lurch, stomach gurgling and body
temperature a full ten degrees lower, into the stairwell. I've done it!
I made a mistake on the elevator yet covered it with the cool
nonchalance that has become my trademark. I'm certain nobody thought
anything unusual about a guy getting off the elevator, drinking from the
water fountain for thirty-eight minutes, then stumbling into the
Bloated yet happy, I
climb to the fifth floor and my plan dissolves as I spy a
combination-code panel on the fifth floor door. Ruin. I was never
given the combo. Defeated, I uncomfortably descend the stairwell
back to ground level. The fourth floor door has a code panel too, but
even if it didn't, I just can't picture going back in and waiting for
the elevator. People might think I was weird.
Reaching the first floor,
I leave the stairs and ride up in the elevator again. It opens on four
and I press myself flat against the side of the compartment to allow
someone to get off and for no other reason than that.
Moments later on five, I
go straight to the office restroom. There's an awful stink in it. I
mean, abysmal. Breathing through my mouth, I get rid of a great deal of
fourth floor fountain water, wash my hands, and perform some other non
stink-producing activities. I do these things as quickly as I can, not
just because I hate smelling stinking smells (although I do), but
because I know exactly what is going to happen next. And since I am me,
and since this is my life, just as I am leaving, it happens: a man I
recognize as the big boss of the office walks in to the restroom.
His nose immediately
wrinkles and his face blanches as he gets a whiff of the smell, and then
he looks accusingly at me. I want to explain the situation or defend
myself, but what can I say?
"I didn't make that
stink" or "Boy, it sure is stinky in here due to someone other
than myself who was in here previous to my own presence in the
lavatory" both reek of guilt, pardon the pun. So I just dart out of
the restroom, knowing that the big boss, having a million other
important responsibilities, will immediately return to his office and
conduct a conference call with all of the office managers, to discuss
the foulness of my stank. Into the office files goes my name, followed
by the word stinkyboy, which is faxed to all the major business
in the hemisphere.
The end of the week. I'm
finishing up a game of FreeCell when my boss approaches. "I wanted
to talk to you," she says, "about the awful stink you made in
the restroom." Actually, she asks me about my ambitions and career
goals, and suggests I come with her to the Human Resources Department.
"I can show you around, and introduce you to people," she
offers. "Maybe you can find some job prospects."
"Sure," I say.
"Let's go," she
says. "Human Resources is on the fourth floor."
"Oh, you know
what?" I say. "I've already been there."