When you press the page button for an elevator it lights up. At least that seems to be the case for every elevator I encounter now–I have ridden in a few that had a simple black button, but those were old, rickety elevators and you could tell they were coming because you could see the weights and chains moving through the wire cage of the elevator shaft, and you could hear the elevator groan, as though it were saying, “I’m cooooming…” One thing that hasn’t changed is that elevators seem to hang out on whatever the last floor was that they went to, which makes sense to me. I guess even elevators deserve an occasional break from going up and down all the time. What doesn’ make sense to me is when I’ve pressed the page button and it’s lit up and I’m standing there waiting and some schmuck walks up and presses it again. Maybe he–it’s always a he–thinks that’ll make the elevator arrive faster, or maybe he thinks I didn’t press it correctly the first time. Maybe he’s just angry with me for thinking he’s a schmuck, but I really didn’t think that until after he pressed the button.
Anyway I had a lot of time to think about this the other day when I was waiting for the light to change and the WALK sign to come on so I could cross the street. There was already a guy standing on the corner when I got there and I didn’t want him to think I was a schmuck so I didn’t push the walk signal button. It doesn’t light up when you push it but I assumed he’d already pushed it since he was standing on the corner and, I assumed, also waiting to cross the street. Also I just assume that regardless of whether I push the walk signal button the WALK signal is going to come on when the light changes and that the button is just there to give people waiting to cross the street something to do. Well, you know what they say: when you assume something you end up standing on the corner while the schmuck who was there when you arrived looks at his watch and starts walking up the street without crossing it. I could have run across the street in spite of the DON’T WALK sign–I’m not morally opposed to jaywalking and have in fact done it in multiple cities, states, and countries–but I also knew that if I got hit by a car the driver would be correct in saying he had the right of way. Also if there was a WALK sign and I got hit by a car the driver would still be correct in saying that because, let’s face it, the multi-ton wheeled hunk of metal always has the right of way over the hundred-and-forty pound sack of meat and bone regardless of what the law says. So I pressed the walk signal button and stood there through another round of light changes, wondering the whole time why the WALK sign doesn’t come on automatically. It’s not like it does anywhere so why does it get a break?