My Happy Place
Macdonald Consolidated school has an elevator. When I first became principal I avoided it. It didn’t save a lot of time and, of course, it was healthier to take the stairs. It was also important for the principal to be seen throughout the building.
On this one particular day, I was having one of those days. I just couldn’t get ahead of the work that needed to be done. Every time I turned around a new problem seemed to present itself.
At one point I needed to chat with a student on the top floor. As I walked by the elevator I thought, If I take the elevator I will be guaranteed 20 seconds of solitude – I won’t be called into a classroom, I won’t run into someone who wants to chat – I will have a brief period of calm. I pressed the button. The doors opened. I stepped in. The doors closed. I was tempted not to press the second floor button – just enjoy the quiet and the nothingness; however, I fought the temptation. I did press it then leaned back against the wall, closed my eyes and enjoyed some deep, slow breaths. It was relaxing. I thought, This could be my Happy Place.
From that day onward, if I was having one of those days, I would often use my Happy Place. When I did, I would think, Wouldn’t it be nice if the elevator became stuck between floors. I would be isolated from the din, and it wouldn’t be my fault. I could even have a nap. Wouldn’t that be sweet.
That day came.
It was two years later. It was exactly as I had imagined. When my Happy Place started to rise, it suddenly jerked to a stop. I opened my eyes. Could it be? Yes, I was stuck in the elevator – I could have that nap.
I realized that it would be weird NOT to alert someone. I picked up the emergency phone. I don’t recall who answered, but the message was passed on. A few moments later I could hear the voice of the head custodian outside the elevator.
“Mr. Caines, are you OK?”
“I’m fine. No problem. All is good.”
“Let’s see if I can get you out of there.”
I wanted to say, Why don’t you go back to what you were doing. You can deal with this later. But that, too, would seem weird.
I knew if the elevator repair guy was to come out it would take him a minimum of forty minutes. That would make for a nice power-nap. That suited me just fine.
I was in my Happy Place but suddenly the elevator started moving. The doors opened on the second floor.
“What did you do?”, I asked the custodian.
“I just pressed the button.”
“Really, that’s all it took?”
“Yes. I’ll called the elevator company and let them know what happened.”
I thanked her, but it wasn’t sincere.
Darn, I could have used that nap.
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