I knew it was going to be a strange evening the minute I left work at 7:34 P.M.
I work on the ninth floor of a twelve floor office building, and my wait for the elevator
was an unusually long one unusual because there is almost no one in the building at that
hour. As I wearily waited before the two elevators in the hallway just outside the office, I
noticed that the left elevator was on the third floor heading down and the right elevator was
on the fifth floor heading up. My money was on the right elevator; I guessed correctly.
What will I do tonight, I thought, observing that the 12 and 11 above the winning elevator
stayed lit longer than the other numbers on its leisurely downward swing. I welcomed the
friendly ding when it arrived and took a quick look at my watch. 7:36 P.M.
There were three people in the spacious elevator, two women and one man. I nodded to
them, all of us seeming to recognize the rareness of so many people in the elevator this late.
I turned to my left and checked that the ground floor button had been pressed.
The hallway I just left disappeared as the aperture of the elevator door slowly shrank.
I stared at the buttons as we were silently taken down, the silence broken only by the
occasional shuffling of the people behind me. Feeling the uncomfortable silence, I had an
urge to strike up a conversation, but I decided to keep quiet. After a few seconds, I looked
up at the numbers above the door. Fifth floor.