Sometimes I had the time right, and sometimes the place; that day, they came together.
From the outside it looked pretty plain: gray metal doors, two of them. But behind those doors, that's where it got interesting. The carriage was bigger than the others. Mirrors, brass, stained wood. A chandelier hung from the ceiling, and tiny ceramic squares tiled the floor. The Express, she pulled passengers to the sky-lobby, forty-eight floors up.
They didn't give these assignments to just anyone. Seasoned operators, that's who got them. Elderly men with demeanors achieved only through age. And Carlson, he'd aged plenty. The perfect elevator man, he knew his regulars by name, knew who had children, who had grandchildren--he had both.
I'd been running Elevator Bank B for fourteen months. Fourteen months of What floor, Sir, and Where today, Ma'am. I knew where they were going, but asked anyway. I didn't know their names, didn't want to know; we were together for a only few seconds, no time for chit-chat. But The Express, it was different in there. No need to ask the floor, everyone went to the same place. Plenty time for talking.
The weather warmed, and no one wanted to be at work, including me. After escorting the usual early birds, I decided I'd had enough, and made my way to the man in charge, but this time I was happy to be there; no complaints had been filed against me, no accusations of staring at breasts in the reflection, not that brushed steel offered much of a view. This time I'd come to quit.
It was just about the time Carlson closed his doors. He'd greeted everyone, asked about their weekends. “Next stop, sky lobby.” The elevator started to rise, but about two-thirds up, he decided to quit, too.
In his wordless way, the man in charge asked what I wanted, but before I could say, his phone rang. He answered, listened, hung up, and there's no way me or anyone else could've known he'd just been informed of Carlson's untimely death. “Report to The Express,” he said. “You've been promoted.”
“I don't know why you're here, but the job's yours. I suggest you take it.”
Right time, right place. I've been running The Express ever since. I'm sorry Carlson died, but the man was ancient. He was also decent in every way. “Next stop, sky lobby.” I'm sure those words were as true as they come.