Up, down, up and down, never really going anywhere, but always in motion; stuck in a shaft, and insulated from the rest of the world’s motions. The place is its own climate, the manifestation of routine.
“Seventh please,” a woman in a crisp blue blouse and smoke gray trousers shatters the silence.
What particular life is commanded by the woman commanded to press the floors and inform the old, the lazy, and the insecure, where the elevator is headed? Inside her little box, obscured from humanity’s melodramas, exposed to the gentle humor and irony of always moving but always staying, the elevator girl illustrates how so much can change and how little over time.
I wonder her voice. I wonder what vividness may possess her life outside an apparently dull, and directionless job. A part of me imagines the cliché – a woman in her thirties, making do with the calibrations of a lift, earning something meager to sustain the unplanned family now too big to rely only on a father. Her yesterdays are shaded in the Filipino battle – poverty. Or perhaps there is more to it, my imagination suggests. Perhaps in the day she is an elevator girl taking people to desired and undesired floors. But after her shift ends, she moonlights as a hired gunman, fearsome with her stealthy 9 mm caliber semi-automatic, taking desired and undesired people down.
The contrast humors me.
Imagine, a woman in a day job so remarkably constant and oversimplified, working in the weekends or the weeknights with her freedoms, her feminine abilities, to kill people and to make another person’s life so destroyed with blunt losses. Such action outside the elevator! Such drama! And in the morning, pressing numbered buttons.
Sounds like a Tarantino movie, I suppose.
Perhaps our lives are like that of elevator girls. Perhaps our despised jobs are such. Up and down, no real promise of progress. We meet people, as the girls meet passengers, but only so briefly to remember their faces for the day, their voices for a few minutes. Outside the office, the provocations lie, and the self-realizations are made. Little shadows which creep inside of us; darks sides never illuminated by the daylight of our practical disguises. With the silence of our day jobs comes the noise of the evening. Do we stay awake, to listen to the noise, to kill, to indulge in the urges of mystery?
Two words seared to her memory, the concise explanation of a woman’s persistent struggle and occasional triumphs. Could it be her destiny too?