Old Man’s River

Keep it together man, just another floor or two to go, no-one is going to get in on our way up. The journey will be short. By all means decorate your door, wet your welcome mat, or throw up all over the threshold but open the floodgates once you get out. Don’t do it here.

These were my thoughts last night.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in an elevator?

We’ve seen pretty much everything in Chinese lifts except X-rated activity. Thank goodness. People here are still pretty conservative.

I got into the lift on the minus one carpark level and proceeded to the 35th floor. It stopped at one (the ground floor in British Commonwealth countries). In stepped a youngish woman and her father. She smiled and said hello. He slurred something to me and tried to keep his balance. They were going to the 20th floor.

He smelt like a distillery.

There was a little burp, a bubbling sound emanating from deep below. Being vomited on by a sick toddler is one thing, how about by a 70 year old man?  This was becoming a very real possibility.

The lift wall was his pillar, his bastion of support. He head slumped forward. We’re not going to make it. Or are we?

“Have you been out tonight?”  I winced at my own question. It was blindingly obvious they’d been out. They probably thought it was none of my business. It would quickly become my business if I wore his technicoloured treacle.

Yeessssh” came his reply, sounding like a certain New Zealand prime minister of yesteryear.

Time slowed as it does when you’re exceedingly uncomfortable. His daughter looked worried. She seemed to have taken on a maternal role. I wondered if she had experienced this many times before. Certain parts of China seem to produce some of the hardiest drinkers in the world, up there with the Russians and Germans. I’ve also seen people turn pink after a glass or two of beer. Which category did he fall into?  Ironman or jellyfish?  Hooch hound or schlemiel?

He cocked his head, one-eyed, and looked in my direction. This is what a deer must feel like when he realises he’s in the hunter’s sights. The moment before impact, the calm before the storm etc. etc.

The lift stopped and dutiful daughter took him by the arm and led him out of the lift. There was a real urgency to her movement as she fiddled with the door keys. That was a narrow escape. As the lift doors began to close, I heard a sound…

SPLAAAAAAAAT!

A narrow escape indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Commute

You can’t beat the feeling!  The stupor of a broken night’s sleep coupled with a long wait. The lifts take an extraordinary amount of time to arrive this morning. We watched Lift C pass our floor on its way up and stop at the floor above us. Oh no not the 36th floor!  I briefly mentioned them in the Neighbours…. post a couple of weeks back. They take forever to get into the lift and take their tank of an electric bike with them. The girl loudly slurps milk through a straw. Maddening. Thankfully we got Lift B today.

Mrs. Tai Chi and her daughter are inside the lift. It’s awkward to share a lift with them as Mrs. Tai Chi is either arrogant beyond belief or (more likely) painfully shy. It’s not easy to differentiate sometimes. You get a half-hearted-hello-you-speak-first-and-only-then-will-I-talk-happily greeting. The daughter slouches against the wall looking like she’d rather be in bed.

Four people in the lift.

We stop at the 23rd floor and in steps James and his dad. James is one of my students and quite a hard worker despite his lack of “finishing”.

“Hello James”

“Grunt”

Six people in the lift.

We’re descended a level before three people I don’t recognise get into the lift. They look tired. Everyone remains quiet.

Nine people in the lift.

And we’re off to the races as we hurtle towards the ground. Oh… nope. We’ve stopped at the 15th and a young woman enters. She looks professional. I don’t recognise her. She is sneaking a glimpse of Miss K in the reflective doors. We arrive at the eighth floor. In hops Cici (pronounced Sissy) – another one of my students and her ever-cheerful mother. She’s the same age, eight, as Miss K.

Twelve in the lift. Someone has bad breath. I think it might be the old man wearing a trendy orange Under Armour t-shirt.  His face is merely inches from mine.

We have a spring outing today!” declares Miss K. I hadn’t heard her talk proactively to anyone in an elevator since we’ve lived here. Suddenly the ice is broken and people are chattering away about the weather and spring outings. Mrs. Tai Chi’s daughter plus James and Cici look crestfallen. Their school has already had their spring outing. Their faces show it  – just another boring day at school. Another three people enter the lift.

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Fifteen sardines trapped in an elevator. Imagine if it broke down. We had 16 people yesterday. I think the record might be 22.

“It’s raining today” someone offers by way of consolation “which means it doesn’t really count as a fun outing.”  Spoil sport.

The lift capacity record remains unbroken as we reach the first floor. Miss K is unperturbed by the rain and her excitement is palpable as she skips to school. Wary looking parents and busy office workers all head out the front gate in anticipation of the day ahead.

This is a typical day in the Block Six lifts. We weren’t attacked by bandits nor did Superman save us from impending doom. It did however offer an insight into a little slice of humanity going about its daily life.

That’s the final blog of the week. There will be more posts next week. Thank you for your continued support.  Have a super weekend.