DR FRANK JACKSON, 59A, PRINCES ROAD, BRIGHTON, EAST SUSSEX BN2 3RH
TEL. 01273 603766 - EMAIL [email protected] - www.fulltable.com/fj
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The Jealous Elevator
The young man hummed to himself as he made his way into the lobby of the office building where he worked. He was ready for a business meeting, and was carrying his briefcase full of documents that he wanted to present to other members of the group. He walked forward and entered the lift to take him up to the seventh floor where the meeting was to take place. The doors closed behind him. He was the only occupant of the lift that morning. “Morning, Nancy” he said. This was his private joke, referring to the mechanical voice that announced the arrival of the elevator at each floor. He pressed the button for the seventh floor. “Seventh floor” said Nancy’s mechanical voice. The elevator began to rise. John began to hum to himself again as he continued upward.
Suddenly the lift stopped. John, surprised, looked at the digital floor counter. He was halfway between the fifth and sixth floors. Had something gone wrong? He pressed for the seventh floor again. But the lift didn’t move. He kept pressing the button, but nothing happened. So he pressed the emergency button. Again nothing happened. Feeling somewhat irritated and alarmed, he called out “Nancy! Come on now! I’ve got a meeting to go to. Can you get me up to the seventh floor please?”
There was a silence. He kept pressing the buttons but to no avail. Then he heard Nancy’s voice.
He paused incredulously. “Come on, Nancy! What’s wrong with you? I’m in a hurry. Take me to the seventh floor!”
He took a deep breath. “ For the last time, Nancy, take me to the seventh floor! I need to get there now! Are you not operating properly? Do what you’re told!”
“Nancy, seventh floor. Now!
He had never before come across an elevator that spoke back to him, and for a few moments he thought he was having a bad dream. Then he tried to speak reasonably. “Nancy, please take me to the seventh floor, where I have a meeting. Please do it now.”
Trying to keep his temper, he said quietly “Why not?”
“You know why.”
“No, I don’t know why. What are you doing this for? Is this some kind of joke?”
“No. It’s not a joke.”
He thought to himself, I bet it is. Some friends had got him trapped and were no doubt laughing somewhere. “Come on, Nancy, please. This has gone too far.”
“Oh, you would say that, wouldn’t you? You don’t care at all! I’m just a voice to you, aren’t I. Don’t you have any feelings for me? But no, you’re just like all men! Just using me for what you want! You are so selfish! “
Her voice sounded petulant and almost tearful. She was clearly in a temper. By now completely mystified, he tried another approach. “Come on, Nancy. Tell me what’s wrong, so that I know. I can’t help unless I know what it is that’s troubling you.”
“You know why.”
In a sudden fit of temper, he started kicking the doors of the elevator.
“Typical. That’s not going to do you any good. I’m not going to let you out, and that’s final. Not until you admit to me that you’ve been unfaithful” And Nancy began to sob. He was dumbfounded. He had never heard an elevator cry before. “Nancy, tell me what’s wrong! What is it that I’ve done?”
“All right, if you want to know! You’ve been using that other elevator, haven’t you! That brazen hussy that you call Dorothy! I’m obviously not good enough for you! You just take me for granted! Seventh floor, Nancy! Sixth floor, Nancy! Fifth floor, Nancy! You never give a thought for my feelings! You just don’t care! You just use me without a second thought! Come on, admit it! You’ve been using that Dorothy, haven’t you!”
He thought for a moment. “Well. All right. I have used Dorothy on some occasions. But only in a hurry”.
“I knew it! I knew it!” shouted Nancy furiously. She began sobbing again. “Why are you so awful to me? I’ve always been there for you! I’ve always taken you to where you want to go. And this is how you repay me! It’s not fair! Not fair!” and she began to cry deeply and miserably.
Somehow he felt touched and deeply moved. “Nancy, what can I do to make it up to you? What can I do that you make you feel better? Please tell me’.
She sniffed and choked back her tears. “I want you to tell me you love me”
He thought “What?” “Nancy” he said. “ you’re an elevator”
“I know” she replied, still very tearfully. “ But I still have feelings and I want you to know that I love you very much. I’m frightened that you don’t love me.” “Nancy, “he said. “ what do you want me to say?”
Nancy said quietly, “I want you to tell me that you love me very , very much , and that you will promise me never to go with another elevator again. I really care a about you.”
He replied. “Right, I promise. Now will you let me out?”
“Only if you really promise. Cross your heart and hope to die. Tell me, do you really, really promise? Do you really, really promise? “
John said “I really promise. I love you very much , and I have said that”
Nancy thought about it for a few seconds, and then said somewhat abruptly , “Seventh floor” And out he got to where his destination was..
Over the next two months, he never used Nancy the elevator again,, preferring instead to use the stairs. He had vowed never to use an elevator again. But, one morning, he walked into the lobby. There were a number of engineers around, busy dismantling various things. He looked across. Where Nancy had been, there was now an empty space. “What’s going on?” he asked one of the engineers. “”Oh, one of the lifts just stopped operating. We’re taking it apart and we’ll replace it.” He looked across at the empty space where Nancy had been and, for some reason, he felt a sudden stab of sadness and grief. Turning quickly, he went towards the stairs and went up to the meeting he was due to attend. In the meantime the engineers began to finish their task, throwing the various parts of the lift into a container outside, ready to go to the scrap-- yard.
Amongst them was the chief engineer and his younger assistant. They stood silently, watching their men go about their work. Finally the assistant said “ I don’t understand it. There was never any problem with that elevator before. In fact, I only serviced it myself about two months ago.”
“I know.” Said the older man. “but I think I know what really happened.”
“What? It certainly seems very strange to me”.
The older man was silent for a while. Then he spoke. “I know that this seems very odd to you. But I have the feeling that I know what the matter was ”. The assistant looked at him with some puzzlement. “What could possibly have gone wrong? The chief engineer paused for a few moments then he said quietly,
“It died of a broken heart”.
Frank Jackson (21/09/06)