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Monday, Nov. 17, 2003 - 8:33 p.m.

Currently listening to: the hum of the ceiling fan. At night. In November. Windows wide open. Ah, South Carolina.

Currently infuriated by: students who complain about not being able to understand their teachers for whom English is a second language. Come ON. Donít just turn off your ears when you hear an accent. Certain accents can take a while to get used to, but I have honestly never met a foreign TA or instructor I couldnít understand, especially one who was teaching English. I should never have scanned reviews of my peers at this idiotic site.

Currently avoiding: grading papers.

Currently drinking: discount cabernet.

Currently looking forward to: my trip to Chicago next week.

Currently stressing out about: writing a letter to my grandma.

Currently infatuated with: bread. Yeah, still. Bread may possibly be humanityís greatest invention. And fortunately, with the ever-increasing popularity of low-carb diets, itís totally indie to be into bread.

Currently happy about: the sweet emails I got last week from people far away. And from people near. Thank you.

Inspired by Lizís elevator stories, Iíve decided to record some of my own. I never spent much time on elevators before moving here; Iíd never worked in a building that had any, and my undergraduate college had few buildings over two stories. So I have been an eager observer of elevator behavior over the last two years.

Elevators bring out the worst in people: they are a stage for arbitrary displays of superiority and painful shows of inferiority. They encourage venting and vitriol. I have seen one stranger mumble furiously at another for riding to the second floor, only to exit at the fourth. I have seen eye-rolling at each opening of the door, smirks between friends as the doors close, and I have heard more snideness than I can recount. A friend of mine who has MS cannot take the stairs from the ground floor up to the first (yes, the first floor is actually up one story. Itís a stupid system). Her disability is not apparent, so she is glared at regularly.

My building has nine floors. I seldom visit the top three, so I do not know how things work in that thin atmosphere. But the rule lower down, it seems, is that anybody exiting two or more floors below your own can acceptably be shunned. Itís the two-floor shibboleth rule. I can understand scorn by the ninth-floorers for the first-floorers, but anything less seems absurd and arbitrary (Liz, I mean no offense!).

Often those who ride to the first or second floor apologize: ďI usually take the stairs, but Iím carrying fifty pounds of books today,Ē or ď I donít know why I didnít take the stairs; I usually do.Ē They do this because they have been chastised and sneered at, or because they have chastised and sneered at others. They feel the eyes on their backs.

With an office on the third floor, I am right in the middle of it all. Sometimes I take the stairs up. Sometimes I take the elevator up. I always take the stairs down. I never ride fewer than three floors; if Iím on the first floor getting my mail, I will walk up the two flights to my office. I like the elevator, and I do not fear the hatred of those above the third floor. And I have my own arbitrary rules of conduct.

A friend of mine was riding the elevator recently with a few of his students up to the fourth floor. The doors opened at the first floor, and one student loudly announced ďWhoís the asshole getting off here?Ē Nobody got off.

Another elevator story comes from my friend B. She was in another building between class periods, crowding onto an elevator with twenty other people. The doors began to close, and the student nearest them stood facing the crowd inside, his backpack sticking out into the hall, preventing the doors from closing all the way. The student directly in front of him gently placed a hand on his chest and pushed him back out into the hallway. The doors closed.

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