Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Race

Leaving my Russian lesson on Monday, on the fifth floor of a non-descript central-city building, my classmates an I came to the elevator/stair junction. Wes pressed the elevator call button, while, at the same time, Jill began decending the stairs.

“Race you!” said Wes…

That sounds like a trivial, short-term challenge. Forget that it wasn't actually issued to me; I took it up anyway.

Close on Jill's heels, I bolted down to the fourth floor, the way everyone does when they run downstairs: head lowered and forward to the level of the collar-bone: elbow of one arm tucked hard against the side, the hand hovering a constant 1.5 centimetres from the hand-railing: the other arm half-extended towards the opposite wall: legs pumping in a kind of clunking-shuffling motion down stairs that were spaced for walking, but are too close to make running anything even approaching convienent.

I reached the fourth floor, heard the elevator door above me open, and a plan formed in my head. I say formed as if I reached a the idea by way of cognative causality: a complex series of steps culminating in a brilliant plan. In reality, I thought it would be clever to press the button to the elevator. This would probably slow Wes down.

The third floor, and I decided to invest two seconds to press the button, in order to slow my adversary down even further; and I did it again on the second floor.

I skipped across the lobby, giggling – actually giggling – like a child, at what I must have thought was a truly vulpine act of competition-rigging. I pranced out the door, and caught up with Jill.

A few seconds later, Wes came out of the building.

I regained my composure, or rather, my composure regained itself.

“Well,” I said. “That was, quick.” I was struggling to give an air of nonchalance as I said this, when I was really trying to work out what had happened to confound my plan so badly.

“Yeah,” he replied. “The elevator was full, so I took the stairs.”

“… Good idea.” I said. “It seems to be running very slowly today. I bet that that elevator-load of people are wishing they had done what you did.”