Everything goes wrong until it doesn't
|My alarm woke me precisely at 7:00 am as I programmed it to do. I had already worked out the exact amount of time it would take me to shower, dress and get an Uber downtown in order to be at the interview with Mr. Morris at 9:00 am on the dot. Precision was key, as Mr. Morris was a stickler for punctuality. It was rumored that Morris once rejected an applicant whose client list would have brought millions of dollars worth of business into the firm of Harrison, Lee, Morris & Waldo simply because he arrived five minutes late to their meeting.
Because of this rather stuffy attitude towards business, there was some question in my mind as to how and when Mr. Waldo had proved himself sufficiently worthy to prompt Messrs. Harrison, Lee and Morris to invite him to append his rather unusual moniker to the name of their prestigious firm. I could only imagine it was something heroic- well, heroic in terms of the law. And since the law doesn’t present many opportunities for heroism, I was very impressed without having to know the details.
I was determined to be impressive as well this morning, which is why I emptied my savings account in order to purchase this new suit. A risk, but one worth taking if I were to be hired. A career at a high-powered law firm would ensure a profitable future. I was going to walk into Morris’ office looking like I belonged there.
My Uber was right on time and I arrived at the office address with enough time to admire my new suit in the mirrored glass of the office building’s front windows. As I entered the elevator and pressed the button for the 14th floor, I started rehearsing once more in my mind the questions I anticipated receiving and my responses. I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t exactly relaxed. This was the most important morning of my life.
And then, it happened. When the elevator stopped on Eleven, I assumed it was to let someone on, or to let the funny little man who was riding with me to exit. I was hoping it would be the latter. But no one got on and to my dismay, my elevator companion did not get off. The doors did not open at all.
It took me exactly 45 seconds to realize that the doors should have opened. I know this because I was precisely timing my arrival at Mr. Morris’ office. And I knew that if the elevator didn’t start moving again in the next minute, I would be late.
The elevator did not move. I hate to admit it, but I was panicking. I picked up the red emergency phone in the panel and was connected with the Maintenance Supervisor’s office. I was told that he was not in today and so was not available to assist me. I am not sure what words I used to convey my urgency to the young man on the other end of the line, but they were sufficiently colorful to make my elevator companion view me with what I think was a wide-eyed surprise. It was hard to tell beneath those thick, black glasses he wore. The young man on the emergency line suggested that if I could not wait thirty minutes for the fire department to arrive, one of us could climb through the skylight in the ceiling and press the emergency release for the doors located on top of the elevator. I didn’t have to ask my fellow traveler if he wanted to try. He was short and round and his portly frame wouldn’t fit through the skylight even if he could get up there - which he couldn’t.
It seemed the best solution to try to salvage my morning. I climbed through the small door in the ceiling and found the toggle switch after only a few minutes of rummaging around in the greasy darkness. The elevator doors opened and I bolted for the stairway.
I flew up those remaining flights of stairs and presented my sweaty, grease-stained, breathless self to Mr. Morris’ secretary a full 15 minutes late. I knew my chances were nil at this point, but I had to go through with it, on the off chance that Mr. Morris might consider a stuck elevator to be a reasonable excuse. I wasn’t hopeful.
After a few moments had passed, the secretary led me into an office, where I was instructed to wait for Mr. Morris, and not to sit on the furniture. It was five minutes of torture before the door opened again and Mr. Morris came through. To my surprise, he was followed by my little elevator companion. Morris held out his hand to shake mine.
“My associate, Mr. Waldo, tells me you rescued him from a stuck elevator,” he said. “Welcome to the firm.”