Typically, even though I thoroughly enjoy the professional part of my day, my elevator ride to the salvation of the evening is the start of something even better – the hours of freedom to do whatever the hell I want before the sandman imprisons me for the majority of the night. On my ride down last night, a man in his fifties, possibly early sixties, boarded my elevator one floor after my own entry.
He looked at me and queried, “It just never ends does it?”
His words were pungent with the stench of liquor, a smell I fancy frankly, and a clear indication that liquid courage had put him up to the task of involving a complete stranger in his assessment of living life, at least his own life that is. Normally I would have shrugged my shoulders, raised my brows a bit, and given absolutely no verbal response – which in my book is the universal gesture for, I hear you, but have no intention of engaging in your crazy at this time. Last night though, maybe because he looked so genuinely defeated, I inquired, “What’s that?”
“This place.” He said in a manner that indicated he was put off by my not already knowing exactly what was never ending.
So, I delivered my aforementioned and possibly patented shrug-brow-silence gesture, to no avail – and so he continued.
“At least we have jobs.” He said.
“That’s what they say.” I replied, not holding true to my own protocol for preventing potential crazies from dragging me down into their pit of darkness – I was now a willing participant rather than just some dumb-luck hi-jacked soul.
He spoke no more, not that there was much time left – it’s only nineteen floors – but there’s always time for the macabre machinery inside my head to lay out a few potential, highly undesirable outcomes of unnerving situations. The defeat in his posture, face, and gaze left me feeling uneasy, specifically about exiting before him. After all, He wore a heavy coat, and perhaps he was concealing a small hatchet to bury into my brain – it’s always that hatchet to the back of the head with me – always. Because once a friend of a cousin told me about their friend who took a hatchet to the back of the head while strolling down 23rd street one night. The result of having stared at a mumbling lunatic just a touch too long while in the process of walking past him. Miraculously, the maniac had unwittingly driven the blade strategically between working pieces of that guy’s gray goo. He lived to tell about it. Since I know that story, I figure the odds of a similar hatchet-to-the-back-of-the-head-lucky-break story are slim to none. And so, like many before him, I insisted – under the guise of extreme courtesy – that the man for which it never ends, exit before me. And I’m happy to report, another night in NYC with no hatchet in my head – a scenario which for me is the thing that never ends.