A young, rather plumpish woman got on the elevator today, pressing the button that would take her from the 43rd to the 44th floor.
Let us pause.
She needed the elevator in order to go from forty-three to forty-four.
In my book, riding an elevator up one floor calls for a darn good staring. I’d do more, but I’m pretty sure I signed something years ago on proper, Midwestern behavior which precludes any acts which may be perceived as confrontational.
I looked her over, in a sideways, non-obtrusive sort of way. As I say, she was young, plumpish, pink-cheeked and bright-eyed. She appeared to be un-drugged, un-saddled by crutches or noticeable spasms.
Of course, it’s not up to me whether or not she takes a flight of very pleasantly designed, open-air style steps from one lousy floor to another. She was, after all, going up a flight and not down. Perhaps she has a fear of thigh muscles. Perhaps it is her first day on prosthetic feet. Perhaps she had signed an agreement whereby she has agreed to leave the stair-climbing to the professionals.
Who am I to say?
When I first started working downtown, almost nine years ago, it was a whole new world for me: Elevators! Skyways! Shopping and restaurants and dry cleaners and banks! You can walk for literal miles in Minneapolis without going outside, a lovely thing indeed considering that Mother Nature, at this latitude, wants to kill you. I was taken around, shown the “regular” beggars, where to go for late-afternoon treats, advised to stay to the right on the escalators and to not waste people’s time with taking elevators only one floor.
That’s right. I was shown The Ropes.
I suspect that not everyone is being made aware of The Ropes, what they entail or even, possibly, that they exist.
And that’s sad.
Like the young man who shoved his way to the front of the line waiting to get on the afternoon bus, telling his girlfriend “There ain’t no line for the bus, you just go to the front”, I harbor concerns that The Ropes are not being shared; and while I would personally like to see them posted somewhere, or, in the case of this young man, beaten into him with a length of rubber hose (to be followed with a politely worded explanation and maybe a late-afternoon treat), I worry others may see this need for regulated civil behavior, on even a superficial level, as infringing on their “rights”.
And it is here that I’d like to propose a toast: Here’s to all those who give up their seats for the elderly and infirm, to those who say “thank you” and “excuse me”, to those who wait patiently – and to those who, upon reflection, allow that not all infirmities are identifiable by sight.
And here’s to those willing to share The Ropes.
I raise my glass to you.