The bank of 4 elevators at the Manhattan JCC are notoriously capricious. Usually 3 of them are out of service at once which means I am often riding the 7 floors to my weekly foreign policy discussion group with way too many people crammed in the same car (which, I might add, speaks to my personal growth after a lifetime fight with severe claustrophobia). Add to these issues the mechanical glitch that forces the elevator to respond to every button pushed on individual floors, e.g. when someone on the 3rd floor presses the button for the elevator it immediately overrides any buttons pressed inside the elevator and heads to the 3rd floor. This mechanical inefficiency means a ride from the lobby (or any floor) can take a frustratingly long time as you travel up and down hoping no one will call for the elevator until you arrive at your floor. My usual strategy is to ride up and walk down.
Last Friday as I was leaving my discussion group the elevator magically appeared! No way could I resist such a rare opportunity so I boarded with 4 other classmates. We pressed the lobby button and, as you probably guessed, headed straight up to the roof! The doors opened and Jim, one of my classmates said very warmly, “get on, there’s plenty of room”. An invisible voice answered ”but there are 20 of us” !! Just to clarify, I was standing off to the side so I couldn’t see anyone but obviously heard there were 20 of them! “No problem” assured Jim as 18 three and four year olds and their 2 teachers filed in. My immediate thought of bolting from what appeared to have suddenly become a clown car was impossible because I was quickly blocked in by the little ones who had taken the elevator from their nursery school on the second floor to their rooftop playground. Only in NYC would kids take an elevator to their playground!
But wait, there’s more…. the teachers kept expressing their gratitude – “no one ever lets us all get on with them” they exclaimed (really? I can’t imagine why!). Next Mr. Jim, our newly appointed elevator/camp counselor, suggested we sing a song. The kids were not so sure about this (me either) but with Mr. Jim enthusiastically leading soon all 23 or 24 of us were happily singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. We got through at least 6 verses as we rode up and down stopping at almost every floor (some of them twice) and amazingly managed to get to the lobby without anyone else joining our sing along!! As we filed out I enthusiastically informed everyone that this was the best elevator ride I ever had!!