Breathless

May 11, 2007

So a husband and wife are sitting at home and the phone rings. The wife picks it up, listens, then turns to her husband and says, "It’s just a lot of heavy breathing!" The husband grabs the phone and yells, "JACKASS! Haven’t you got anything better to do with your life that harass decent people?" He listens for a moment then turns to his wife and says, "Our son’s car broke down and he had to push it two miles uphill to the service station."

I thought about this joke because one of the elevators in the building where I work broke down, and one of the remaining two is being used to haul new office furniture for some people who inexplicably got tired of sitting on the floor at work. So there’s one elevator available for a building of thirty-seven million people and whenever I come into the lobby there’s a large crowd waiting for it. As soon as the doors open everyone crowds in. The sign in there says "Maximum occupancy: 23", but I think that’s assuming twenty-three people who are built like Emo Phillips. And there are at least twenty-seven people who crowd in there because no one wants to wait. That reminds me of something my father used to say: "If more people took advantage of public transportation it would be better for the air, save gas, and I wouldn’t have to look so hard for a parking spot."

But I digress. After all those people crowd in there one of them will always hold the door and look at me expectantly, as though saying, "There’s room for one more!" And then one of them says, "There’s room for one more!" Do they think this is a game? Remember those golden college days when we used to see how many people we could cram into a phone booth? Probably not. If you remember that you also remember wearing a raccoon coat, riding around in a Stutz Bearcat, and having goldfish-swallowing contests.

But I digress. I look at all those people stuffed into the elevator and suddenly climbing stairs seems like a great idea, even though it’s ten flights at a 40-degree angle, and I’m not a sherpa. Some people join fancy gyms and pay a lot of money so they can climb stairs. I get to do it for free, and the only thing I’m missing is a fancy sauna, a jacuzzi, a bunch of mirrors, a big window onto the street that allows the entire city to watch me soak a t-shirt with my own sweat, and some big bald guy named Dirk screaming at me for eating a chocolate bar last night. But I digress. So I get to my office panting, puffing, trying to catch my breath, and the phone rings.

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