It was late at night. Danger was in the air…
No, not really. Just an average evening in Block Six’s lobby. No-one was around – just me. I’d endured an hour on Guangzhou’s busiest roads with highly-skilled and considerate (ho ho ho) drivers. Class had ended late and parents had wanted to talk. By the time I’d eventually reached the apartment lobby, home seemed within reach. The lift arrived.
It’s hard to spell what static might sound like. I’d like to attempt it here:
Most of us have had the pleasure of hearing static at some point or another. It’s a popular form of torture. I heard static in Lift B. It was coming from the emergency contact speaker located above the elevator buttons. If ever in trouble, people can press the emergency contact button and converse with somebody at the other end. I swiped my card and the elevator doors closed.
There it was again.
(Voices in Chinese) There he goes, ramble ramble, foreigner, ramble (indecipherable rapid-speed Mandarin)
I could hear people, young women to be precise, speaking. I guess they were the operators who “man” the phones for the elevator company. Maybe they work for the building management department. They come from a distant, unknown land.
Operators: Ramble, ramble, look at that big nose of his, so sharp, ramble ramble
Hold on, I have a big sharp nose…
Operators: Ramble, he’s very tall, ramble, I think he’s from New Zealand, ramble, laughter
I’m relatively tall, from New Zeal…. the blighters are talking about me! They don’t realise that they’ve left the microphone on – they’re live, on-air!
Operators: He’s got two cute daughters, kcccccrrrrccccsssssccchh, big eyes, very white skin, the older one is shy…
I turn around and face the elevator camera, located in the top left corner.
Operators: Ramble, ramble, can he hear us? Yes, I think he can, no, surely not…
Pointing my teacherly index finger in the camera’s direction, I produce my sternest frown.
Operators: Oh my goodness he CAN hear us, heaven’s…
The doors open at my floor and I begin to exit. There’s a panicked clunk, the sound that’s made when someone switches off a mic attached to a PA system.
And THAT was the last time anything was ever heard from these voluminously nosy young women – girls really, who enjoyed chatting so very publicly about their beloved lift passengers!
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