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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

El Ascensor and the Importance of not Being Petty





A lot of people would be positively thrilled to have one of these marvels in their building. I lived without a lift for two years in a third floor apartment. No big deal but I had to be extra-careful going up and down the stairs with my bike so that I didn’t scuff up the walls. I live on the fourth floor in my new building and it has a lift although I rarely use it. I’m trying to get into the best shape possible and a few stairs every day can't hurt towards that end.

I never take it down, or almost never. I almost never take it up. If there is someone else waiting or someone just behind me when I enter the lobby I always just hump up the stairs and leave it for my neighbors. The lift doesn’t have memory so it just goes up or down and won’t stop at multiple floors to collect people so if it’s going down from the ninth floor and you live on the eighth you have to wait until it goes all the way to the bottom and then comes back up to collect you. Even when I really want to use the elevator I almost never do because I can’t stand waiting. When I take my bike out of the apartment (2-7 days a week) I usually wait for the lift although sometimes I don’t. The stairwell in this building is nice and wide so carrying a bike is fairly easy and quite often I just can’t be bothered with the wait.

I was taking out my trash and recyclables yesterday so I called for the lift and when I entered there was a note inside. It asked that the residents of the fourth floor (little old me as the unit across the hall is vacant) please make sure the door to the lift is closed because twice now it was stuck on the 4th floor and there are elderly people in the building who need to use it. By “twice” I’m sure they meant “once” because posting a nasty-gram in the elevator for only one transgression would just be petty, wouldn’t it? I had some friends come by and it was probably they who left the door to the lift ajar and thus instigated the shitstorm in my building.

I’d be willing to wager a lot of money that the fourth floor uses the lift considerably less—like 99% less—than any other floor in the building, including the lazy slobs on the first who use it constantly (I know because I pass them when I am on the stairs as they are waiting for it to collect their sedentary asses). Now I’m the asshole who left the door open instead of the cool guy who always takes the stairs and leaves the elevator for his neighbors. It almost makes me want to stop my health kick and hog up the lift like everyone else.

But that would be petty. Petty is a great word and doesn’t truly translate into Spanish. I like to explain this word to people, some of whom speak great English but don’t know this gem in our vocabulary. I’ve actually had to write my own definition because I have found dictionaries to be inadequate and imprecise. Petty: mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things and a person who worries about not-shit* stuff and who therefore usually places little or no importance on things worth contemplation. I try never to be petty. The older I get the less tolerance I have for pettiness and I ban it from my life like a bad habit (and it is a bad habit for some). I can’t even imagine how many times the lift would have to be stuck on a neighbor’s floor before I would be compelled to put up a note.

*of little or no importance

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