Monday, February 13, 2006

"'4' please, button-boy."

Every Sunday night I take my daughter to her AWANA club that begins each meeting upstairs in our family Life Center at church (our Family Life Center has three floors).

Every once and-a-while I will take the elevator up and if I time it right am able to catch a couple of children less willing to take the stairs. As everyone Knows (it must be one of the unwritten laws of the universe) one or more child or Children must punch the buttons. I remember as a small child (between 8 and 11) how I often drifted from shopping mall to shopping mall with my mom who made her living as a starving artist selling her paintings at art shows--many of which would be held in the halls of a shopping mall somewhere. I learned how to keep myself busy in most locations during those long weekends by doing such things as commandeering the local elevator. I hated sidewalk shows, for obvious reasons.

Yes, I was once King button-boy. Everybody who got into my box went nowhere unless I poked the button. Occasionally one of my subjects patrons fellow shoppers offered tribute or gave a tip and that was truly the icing on my cake of button-pushing. Besides, my mom rarely worried--she knew right where I was, safe and out of trouble. And security had nothing to worry about because I never went into the stores (not to imply they should have been worried if I did).

You know the term "elevator music?" I had a theme-song that went something like this:

[soft solo guitar plays a simple mystical arpeggio ending on three lower notes, repeating the phrase twice--a soft tenor solo voice joins the guitar]
"there's a guy who knows
That he needs new clothes,
So he's taking the elevator to Men's wear.
[guitar for a few notes]
In the back on the right,
There's some pants way too tight;
Far away from the elevator in Men's wear."

You get the idea. But the song was stolen by some guy who said he flew a steel derigible or a lead blimp (I could never figure that out)--some Kind of Zeppelin--and he changed the words about some girl and a lame stairway. . .

Where was I? . . . Oh, yeah. I hated having to abandon my post for potty-breaks or to eat because those poor souls really did not know where they were headed without a seasoned pilot at the helm. I think I had to forcibly regain my position on a rare occasion or two . . .

Did I mention my grandfather's name was Otis?

Anyway, on occasion I will find myself in the elevator with children eager to do their duty of button-pushing, so I look them in the eye and with a voice full of Empathy and understanding, say, "'4' please." all eyes and fingers quickly fly to the panel where anyone elevated to this position will find All he or she needs to move us from "point A" to "point B"; or, in our local content, from floor 1 to floor 3 . . . but no 4.

Imagine the great consternation that comes sweeping in, or the sheer state of panic an 11 year old feels when he or she or they realize that 1) an adult hath spoken; 2) a child must obey; 3) this elevator only has buttons for 3 floors! I've seen a child or two wish very deeply that a "4" would appear. I've witnessed small herds of fingers fight for a button that never existed here. Rarely, I will see a set of eyes turn back fo me as if to say, "gee, Mister, your elevator doesnt go all the way up, does It?"

But I know well that feeling of impending humiliation of not being able to deliver. I, too, have received insults from unfeeling passengers who demand the impossible. But instead of allowing one of our future church leaders of America feel as if they are not worthy of the great office of lift-steerage, I help them out . . . a little.

I tell the lad or lassie, "well, you can push '2' Twice, or give it A '3' and '1' Combination."

Most get the joke real fast, but tonight one boy pushed '2' Twice, never smiling, never taking his eyes off me.

By the way, the answer is, "'yes', my elevator does go all the way to the top."

And did I mention my grandfather's name was Otis?

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