The Elevator

The Pearl Hotel sits off Rd. 7 in the Maadi district of Cairo.  It is also where I spent my first night and was introduced to some of the charms of developing country living.  I could choose to tell you about my attempt at using the hose next to the toilet but I think it would be more appropriate to share a different story as that one did not end well. 

The outer doors of the building elevator do not open on their own.  This is not totally foreign to me, but it does require that you think quickly and move with speed because if you do not open the door immediately, the elevator will head to it's next destination.  I did not know this.  Yesterday evening as I was preparing to go out, I ran downstairs to the lobby to check the clock.  Every clock I own has a different time and with it being Ramadan, the clock does not follow the same rules. 

On my way back up to my room, I pressed floor number 5 and waited as the cramped elevator creaped up the 5 floors.  When my floor arrived, I waited for the door to open.  In my jet hazed mind I forgot, so in the time it took me to process the thought "You have to push it yourself-Oh! OK- go!" the elevator began to head back  down.  So I tried to push floor 4 to catch it off guard and leave me with a one floor walk.  No luck then 3, no go- It was almost as if I was possessed by this falling capsule and that maybe I could beat it if i thought quickly.   

As we approached the second floor I looked at what I had done.  Every floor was lit up and we were quickly descending to pick someone up on the ground floor.  Whoever got in this thing with me would have to ride it as it stopped on each floor, and I would have to stand with him, pretending that I knew nothing about this seemingly juvenile prank I had accidentally decided to pull.  When the doors opened, a man entered the tight space and I did what any other idiot would do. 

I ran.

 I thought that if I ran up the stairs I could beat the elevator and the man would never know what was happening.  Even if he did clue in, I would never see him again.  At each floor landing I could see the elevator shaft and I knew that  we were competing.  Again it was a battle between me and the elevator.  Only this time there was an  innocent civilian involved.  Finally,  as I rounded the fourth floor, I thought I was in the clear.  One more to go, and this would all be over and the stranger would have no idea why he stopped on every floor.  I was wrong. The  doors opened wide and I practically ran right into him as he stepped off the elevator.  I was dripping sweat.  I had not slept in 36 hours and this man, carrying his 2 sacks of McDonald's to break his fast stared right at me.  I looked at him.  Standing dead in my tracks. I felt like I had just been caught stealing a candy bar.  So I smiled at him and shrugged a shrug like "What else should I have done?"  He smiled back like he understood.  I climbed the last flight, casually. 

I may have lost that battle but overall I won the war.  At least with the elevator.