Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Elevator Ride

A week or so ago I went to visit a good friend in the hospital.  I had to take the elevator.  As I approached, a couple was disembarking and as they exited I began my entrance.  I reached inside the door to hold it from the outside as suddenly a few other folks came up to the lift.  Soft 'thank you's accompanied the newbies.

As the new arrivals entered the elevator, several more people hurriedly approached hoping to board; I continued to hold the door.  About six or so were now aboard.  I began to move toward entering when another couple of couples and a straggler came for their chance to ride.  My boarding now preempted I felt the door's pressure against my hand in it's attempt to close.  The lone straggler faced me as he quickly stepped toward the entrance asking, 'Is there room'?  All passengers were now aboard.  The door closing provided the only sound in the otherwise voiceless carriage.

As the last of the light from the ground floor disappeared through the crack of the converging doors and as the last of the floor selections were made, the elevator lurched downward ever so slightly.  A gasping sound came from all of us as a bell began to ring.  Someone said, 'Are there too many?'  There was a collective chuckle and wonder as to whether the elevator would lift off.

The bell stopped and the elevator journeyed upward as soft smiles of relief could be felt inside.

I was the first to get off at the second floor and as the doors opened and I made my way out, I said walking away, 'good luck' to which smiles and chuckles followed my exit.

I've thought about this experience and the human interaction, albeit ever so brief, with that small group of strangers on the elevator.  What brought us all together to be at that moment in time?  What was it about the incident that caused us to make the comments we made?  Could we have easily been completed silent throughout?  I've smiled to myself and to others while thinking back on and sharing the experience.

So many people these days don't say 'hello' in passing, don't know their neighbors and if they do and something is amiss most folks are afraid to approach or ask if everything's OK.  Do we not want to get involved?  Are we afraid of intruding on someone's privacy?  Maybe that neighbor just wants someone to listen to them about the bad work week or some other home situation that might be weighing them down.

First it was radio, then television, follower by the computer, the cell phone and all the other technological gadgetry all causing us to veg within the walls of our abodes.  The front porches of our homes, if we even have one, have only a bench that we might refinish from time to time and some chairs covered with dust and pollen, but no people to fill them.

Our conversations are brief and rarely meaningful or thought provoking anymore.

Thankfully I am a part of a men's spiritual discussion group that meets once a week.  We're a committed group that devote a couple hours a week to talking and contemplating various topics including this one.

Did you encounter a stranger today?  On your way to work, at lunch on the way home?  When was the last time you talked to the person in line at the grocery store, the pharmacy or an elevator?

When was the last time you took time to gather with friends, to break bread and have meaningful conversation?

Oh...the friend that I went to check on...he was doing fine...we had a nice visit and a nice talk.

Feel free to share your conversational experiences and encounters here. 


PS- My son, Gabriel is five months old now.  Of course he's not yet really talking, but then again, his emerging happy personality is saying a lot.

What I'm Listening To This Week- 
This week I've been listening to Santana.  Here they are in 1969 at Woodstock. I think Carlos all too often is overlooked as one of the world's guitar greats.  Enjoy!

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