Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tower of Terror

Yesterday afternoon, I went to Starbucks hoping to get a quick cup of coffee. Realizing now that the words “quick” and “Starbucks” are anything but synonymous, I ended up leaving the coffee shop, empty handed and headed back to my office to finish up the remainder of the day.

I work in a decently sized building in the Columbus Circle area. It’s not a huge skyscraper, but it’s also not a three-story-walk up. It’s somewhere in-between. And that also goes for the age and style of the building. It is not modern, not chic, and the doorman just sits at his counter, welcoming people and offering directions. “The dentist? 5th floor. Have a good day.”

Him and I are “buddies” if you will. We occasionally shoot the shit, whether it be about the days of the week (“Ah, it’s Monday again) or about the weather (“Ah, it’s rainy again), him and I seem to have a good rapport. So good, in fact, that he invited me to his family’s BBQ on the 4th of July. I didn’t end up going, of course, but it was nice that he invited me, the sharply dressed guy who works on the 6th floor.

When I got back to the office building, not ready to go inside and back to work yet, I decided to partake in a quick smoke. I don’t normally smoke throughout the day, but I figured what the hell. It will give me a few minutes to relax and check my Instagram (Grindr) account. When I was done with my Marlboro Light, I headed in through the extremely heavy front doors to my building, gave the door man a head nob and pushed the button for the elevator.

“On your left” he called, informing me that the next available elevator had arrived, in case I didn’t hear the “ding” that came with its arrival. “Thanks,” I said back. I got into the elevator and pushed the button with the “6” on it and leaned against the side of the elevator, continuing to scan through Instagram pictures (Grindr profiles).

When I passed the fifth floor, something strange happened, but I didn’t think twice of it at first. Fifteen seconds later, when the elevator doors ceased to open, this is when I started to notice something was off. I looked up at the LED screen and saw that the number “6” was blinking, yet nothing was happening.

I waited another fifteen or so seconds and then pressed the “Call to Speak” button. Never having pressed this button before, I did not know what to expect. Who, exactly was I calling to speak with? And more importantly, did this button even work? Well, it turned out that it did work and that it called the maintenance department.

“Hello, are you stuck?” he asked, with a sense of sarcasm.

“Yes,” I replied, trying not to make my voice quiver. “I am stuck in the elevator.”

I let go of the “Call to Speak” button and waited on my instructions, but all he responded with was, “Can you hear me?”

I pressed the button again, and a little bit louder, I yelled that yes, I could hear him and that I was stuck in the elevator. But, once again, all he replied with was “Can you hear me?”

Frustrated, I pushed the button one last time, raised my voice a little bit louder, and said, “Yes. I can fucking hear you. Can you please get me out of here?”

“Help is on the way,” was all he said.

I stood there, trying not to panic, and reached for my cell phone to see if I could text someone in my office. Naturally, I did not have service, but I stood on my tippy-toes and raised my phone as high into the corner as I could, thinking this would make a difference. It didn’t. Below is a detailed account of the time I spent trapped in this elevator – 45 minutes to be exact.

4:03pm: The man on the other end of the speaker, the man I had just yelled at, asked me what office I worked in so he could call them and tell them I would be “a little late coming back.”

4:05pm: I sat down on the floor of the elevator in the back corner and decided that I should just play a game of Candy Crush to take my mind off of the fact that I was trapped in a 3 foot by 3 foot metal box. I swiped those colored candies as I hummed the theme song, but it didn’t distract me. Not even a little bit.

4:09pm: Still playing Candy Crush. Still humming the theme song. Still freaking out.

4:12pm: I hear my boss’ voice from somewhere beyond the elevator doors. “James? James? Are you in there?” he yelled. “Yes! Yes, I’m here!” I screamed with joy. I never thought I would be this excited to hear his voice. “Someone will be there shortly. Call the office if you need anything.” I checked back at my phone and say my phone went from “Searching…” to “Shit out of luck.” I went to the door and yelled back, “I have no service!” but there was no answer. He must have went back inside.

4:15pm: I am pissed off. Not just because I am stuck in this elevator, but by the fact that I have been on this same level of Candy Crush since June, and I can’t beat it. No matter how many power-ups I use or how many lives I have to buy, I cannot for the life of me, get past this level. I grow frustrated with the game and close it out.

4:16pm: I figured now would be a good time to take a “I’m trapped in an elevator but my beard looks good” selife. As for any good selfie, at least 7 need to be taken so you can choose the best one.

4:21pm: 5 minutes later, I now have over 60 pictures I have taken of myself from every angle and every corner of the elevator. None of them were Instagram-ready.

4:22pm: I wonder if the camera in the elevator works. Can they see me? Is someone in the basement watching me right now? Are groups of people down there, with bags of chips, watching me take pictures of myself?

4:26pm: I hear the man from the speaker box. “Hello, how are you?” he asked me. “I’m okay,” was all I could think to reply with. I didn’t want to appear like a baby, but I also didn’t want him to think I was enjoying myself. “Okay” got that point across. “The elevator mechanic will be here in a few short minutes. Do you need anything?” “A dry martini would be nice.” He didn’t respond.

4:33pm: The elevator mechanic has arrived. I can tell, because I hear a man on the other side of the door that said, “Hello, I am the elevator mechanic.”

4:35pm: I begin thinking of life and death. Is this it? Is this how I die? From being stuck in an elevator? I always thought I was going to leave this earth in a dignified way, not plummeting down to my death.

4:36pm: Will I ever see the sun again? I think to myself. Or my family and friends. What I would give to make them laugh just one more time.

4:37pm: I am never going to know what true love is. I came close, in high school, but that doesn’t count. I spent so much time over the years, dating and trying to impress guys and giving handjobs – for what?

4:39pm: I hear something banging against the elevator door. I stand away and try to imagine how they are going to get me out of here. I realized that I was trapped between the fifth and sixth floor, and now I am beginning to panic about my rescue. Are they going to have to pull me out of the elevator? Like they do in the movies? What if I fall? What if the elevator falls and cuts my body in half. I need my lower half.

4:41pm: I hear voices. More than one. It’s the elevator mechanic and my co-worker. I hear her asking him what he is doing and him responding with, “Trying something…” Trying something? What do you mean? Isn’t this like…day 2 of elevator mechanic school? Day 1: Introduction to Elevators; Day 2: How to Get Someone Out of an Elevator; Day 3 – Graduation. While I am thinking about this, I hear my co-worker say, “Oh my God…” What? What Oh my God? What’s going on up there? The banging against the door has subsided for a few seconds, and then I hear the mechanics voice say, “Oh! I have an idea!”

4:42pm: I open up the Notes section of my iPhone and draft a letter to my parents. I try not to cry as I type out my last good-bye to them.

4:42pm: My iPhone keeps auto-correcting “dying” to “tying” and it is frustrating me.

4:44pm: The elevator moves. First it went down a few floors and stopped. I froze. Then, it started lifting back up. “3…4…5…6…” I see the elevator passing my floor and now I think this is something out of Tower of Terror. It is going all the way to the top and then plunging down to the basement. I crouch down in my best “I think I could survive this” position and close my eyes.

4:45pm: The elevator stops and makes a “ding” noise. I see that I am on the 8th floor. The doors shake for a few seconds and then release, opening me up to the world. I burst out of the elevator like I had been trapped in a cave for 6 years. “Freedom!” I exclaimed.

 

When I made it out of the elevator, there was a tiny old lady waiting to get on. When I burst out of the elevator, she looked at me, curiously. “DON’T GO IN THERE!” I screamed. “I was trapped in that elevator for over an hour (okay, so I exaggerated a tad). It’s a death trap. Take the stairs. I beg of you!”

I went to the staircase hallway and ran down to the 6th floor. Naturally, the door was locked. I banged and pounded on the door for one whole minute. Finally, I heard footsteps, and then a voice. It was my boss. He stood up to the door and goes, “Who is it?” trying to be funny.

“It’s me! I escaped! I’m free!”

He opened the door and welcomed me back. While walking towards the office, the elevator bank made a “ding” and the door to MY elevator opened. And who was inside? The little old lady: a daredevil.

I sat down at my desk and, since I finally had service, I checked my phone. Nothing. Not one missed call, or text message, or even an email. Somehow, I realized, that while I was trapped in the elevator, other people’s lives had managed to move on.

Ten minutes later, my co-worker walked into our office holding an 8-footlong stick and a scotch tape dispenser. “You made it!” she said, waking towards me with open arms.

We parted from our hug and I said, “that was the scariest moment of my life.” I then looked back at the contents in her hands and said, “What’s that?”

“The elevator mechanic asked if we had something long and stick like, so I found these two sticks in the storage room and then taped them together so it would reach you.”

“THAT’S how he planned to get me out? A stick held together with tape?”

She put the stick and the tape dispenser down on the desk and told me about this mechanic. “He came in holding a wrench and a hammer. And that’s it. I think they just found him on the street.”

I thanked the Lord that, for whatever reason, the elevator began moving again. I thanked everyone in my office for being so supportive and helpful during this stressful time. My boss, then, called me back into his office and asked, “Were you screaming in the elevator?”

I shook my head no. “I mean, I did yell a little bit. But I wasn’t screaming. Why?”

He called his voicemail and put it his phone to my ear. It was the man from the speaker in the elevator. “Hi there, this is Sam from the front desk. I just wanted to let you know that one of your employees is trapped in the elevator, but don’t worry, we’ll get her out soon.”

Her?

Now, there have been many times throughout my life where I have felt emasculated (dodge ball, kickball, table tennis) but this was a new low. I am a mature 27 year old man with a range-appropriate voice. Sure, when I was a kid I would answer the phone and the telemarketers would always say, “Good evening, Mrs. Lane” but I thought I – and my voice – had grown out of that.

My boss and I shared a laugh, which only lasted six seconds before he told me to get back to work. I sat back at my desk and stretched my legs, knowing that I would be taking the stairs for the next few days.

Flirting at 10,000 Feet

Flying is never fun…especially when you have a layover in Atlanta, like I did last Wednesday. I was coming home from a week spent in sunny Florida, visiting my parents, drinking Corona Light’s out by the pool and avoiding friends from high school at the supermarket.

My flight from my small hometown in Florida to Atlanta was just your average commuter flight, without any excitement or peanuts. But as soon as we landed, I got a big smile on my face because I had exactly one hour until my connecting flight took off, which left me with plenty of time to grab a cocktail and go to the smoking lounge.

In case no one has been to the Atlanta airport – or smokes cigarettes – there are 5 designated smoking lounges, one for each terminal, in which you can sit down and take a long drag of a Marlboro Light without having to leave the airport and go through security again. Those lounges are heaven.

I finished my three cigs and then inhaled a glass of Pinot Grigio at the bar and arrived at my gate just in time to board. I made my way to my designated seat on the aisle and took out my Sudoku book, ready for a fast and easy flight.

Not five minutes after I got settled and completed two puzzles, this guy comes barreling down the aisle, suitcase in hand, and stops at the row right behind me. “Ughhhh, can I just put this down for a second?” he gasped to no one.

A gay. My face lit up like it was Christmas morning. I turned around to look at Mr. Dramatic, and was pleasantly surprised – and shocked – that he was a tall, muscular, and gorgeous man. I smiled, weakly, at him and he threw his bag in the overhead compartment and took his seat, directly behind me. “Now would have been a good time to use Head & Shoulders,” I thought to myself.

Another five minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up to see an Asian couple standing before me. Now, I knew I was in my correct assigned seat, so I don’t know what they could possibly want, unless to get an autograph for my food blog.

It was neither.

They were telling me and Mr. Biceps (which I will call him from now on) that they just got standby tickets on this flight and they were split up, one sitting in the middle seat in my row and one sitting in the middle seat in Bicep’s row, and they asked if one of us would mind moving so they could sit together. I started to get agitated and began to roll my eyes at them, but then realized that if I complied with their request, I would be snuggling up to my new boyfriend while we watched the in-flight movie.

Before I could respond, Biceps said that he needed to be on the aisle because he needed to do some work, and because he was 6’4’’, he needed the leg room. I turned to join the group discussion and said that I would move over to the middle seat and he could take mine, so the Asian couple could sit next to each other. Normally, I would tell them to suck it up and they should be happy to be on the same flight, but that response wouldn’t get me closer to having sex with this guy, so I just smiled and scooted over.

Biceps grabbed his laptop case and to-go bag from Chick-Fil-A and took his new seat. I smiled at him and said, “Welcome to row 28. You made the right decision.” He just looked at me, put his tray table down, and started eating his chicken sandwich. I threw that Sudoku book in the seatback pocket in front of me and pulled out one of the interesting novels I bought for my trip but never read.

The Asian couple thanked us profusely and made a comment saying that they would buy us a drink for our generosity. “Ohhh, I could go for a glass of white wine,” I said with a wink while he thanked them and said, “A Bourbon would be nice.” I hated myself that I said I wanted white wine.

He continued to eat his chicken sandwich, doused with BBQ sauce and honey mustard, while I picked up my book and pretended to read it. Before I knew it, we were leaving the gate and ready to take off. All I could think about was whether I put on clean underwear or not.

While sitting on the tarmac, idle and waiting for the other plans ahead of us to take off, I kept trying to think of a good conversation starter, but “Headed to New York?” seemed boring and obvious. For the first time in my life, I was at a loss for words. Usually being able to hold a conversation with a door knob or someone from Jersey, I could not think of one single opener for this guy. Instead of putting my earphones in and minding my own business, I instead leaned over and said, “That sandwich looks good.”

“Why did I say that?” I am asking myself now, repeatedly. Why did I have to make a comment about the sandwich? I could have said anything – literally anything – that would have been more interesting and less creepy. I mean, what did I expect him to respond to that with? “It really is divine. Would you like a bite? And maybe, after, we can talk about our likes, interests, and favorite movies.” No. Of course he didn’t say that. He just looked at me, with BBQ sauce in the corner of his mouth, and nodded in agreement that yes, the sandwich was good.

Once we took off, I realized that our conversation had come to a sudden halt, so I put back in my earphones, blared my Ashlee Simpson playlist, and closed my eyes, hoping for a quick nap before the snack cart came my way. While trying to get some rest, this is when I noticed my new prospective boyfriend had some sort of nervous tick or habit. I wouldn’t necessarily call it Tourette’s, but I wouldn’t call it normal either. His left leg kept shaking, up and down, like it was injected with 3 liters of Cuban Coffee. I didn’t mind it at first, because with every shake and quiver, his leg would gently graze mine, giving me comfort and security. I also noticed that he had some sort of an OCD behavior. Although his sandwich was finished, his giant Styrofoam cup of Diet Coke and ice was not. He would pick up his cup, bite the end of the straw and push it down, making a horrible plastic-meets-Styrofoam sound. Then, he would take a sip, shake the cup twice, and put it down below his seat. This ritual continued for the next thirty minutes. Finally, his drink was empty, but then he did one of my biggest pet peeves: he chewed on the ice.

Once the pilot turned off the seat belt sign, he went to his carry-on bag and pulled out his laptop, because remember – he needed to sit on the aisle seat so he could get some work done. If the leg movement and the ice chewing wasn’t enough, now he was typing away at record speed, continually jabbing me in the chest with his oversized (and bulging) arms. “Sorry” he would say every time he hit the space bar. “Don’t you dare apologize,” I said lovingly.

So there I was, sitting in the middle seat, next to an overweight man sleeping on my shoulder and the could-be love of my life gyrating his legs and hammering away on his keyboard, all while chewing on ice. There wasn’t one Ashlee Simpson song on my iPod that could deafen the sound. I started to think maybe he was nervous about flying. Being somewhat of an anxious person myself, I understood just what he was going through and suddenly felt so rude about shutting my eyes and putting my earphones in when maybe he just needed someone to talk to. I put my iPod away and picked up the Sky Mall catalog, because what’s a better conversation starter than a Tetris Lamp or a LED Grill Light Spatula.

With every turn of the page, I would “ooh” and “ahh” at the ridiculously overpriced items for purchase. A few times I caught him take a glance at the magazine, but missed his opportunity to chime in and say, “Who needs a Canadian Year-Round Rain Barrel?”

After pretending to read Sky Mall, I gave up and started playing Candy Crush. Thirty minutes and 2 beaten levels later, the drink and snack cart made it to our row. As the flight attendant asked me what I would like to drink, the Asian couple both went to the bathroom, forgetting – or avoiding – their promise to buy me and Mr. Biceps a drink. I leaned over and, with my most sultry voice, ordered a Ginger Ale and a bag of pretzels. I looked over to the guy sleeping next to me and decided that he, too, would want a bag of pretzels, so I ordered some on his behalf. Whether he ended up getting said pretzel’s is completely off topic.

When it was my boyfriend’s turn to order his drink, he picked up his empty Chick-Fil-A cup and asked the flight attendant if he could fill it up with some Diet Coke, like he was at a 7-11. Even I, a pain in the ass in most situations, was pretty shocked at the gall of his request. “This is Delta, buddy. You might be able to get away with that on Virgin or United,” I wanted to tell him. “Look at me. I ordered a Ginger Ale and he gave me half a can. And once the fizz settles, it will be approximately three sips.”

The flight attendant looked at me quizzically and I gave him the “Don’t look at me, I don’t know him” face while I shrugged my shoulders. He smiled (because how could you not smile at someone as beautiful as him) and said that he couldn’t fill up his cup. The guy looked saddened. Like his parents took him to Disney World and the only ride he wanted to go on was The Tea Cups and it was closed for maintenance. It was in this moment that I witnessed the craziest and most unexpected gesture from a Delta employee; he said, “How about I just give you the entire can of Diet Coke?”

The. Entire. Can.

Now, for some of you higher class people, getting a whole can of soda on a plane is commonplace. “Everyone gets cans of Sprite after we finish our champagne and ahi seared Tuna,” they will prevail. But, alas. I am not privileged. (You should have picked up on that when I said I had a layover in Atlanta).

Biceps graciously accepted the can of soda and, and without pressing his luck, asked for some ice. The flight attendant looked behind up, making sure his supervisor was nowhere to be seen, and filled up the cup with ice. “More ice for him to chew! Yippee!!” I cried.

Once the drink cart rolled away, the Asians came back to their seats and avoided eye contact. I looked at my watch and saw that I only had 45 minutes left to seal the deal. Or at least get some sort of a conversation going. Not having the time or creative energy to come up with an excellent topic of conversation, I just leaned in and said, “Wow. You got the whole can. They don’t do that for just anybody.”

He gave me a half-smile and said, “Well, I needed my drink to be in a cup with a lid because I am working and I do not want to get sticky soda all over my keyboard. Plus, I am really thirsty.”

“So am I, apparently.”

And that was it. I gave him many opportunities to strike up a conversation with me, and he just wasn’t feeling it. With only thirty minutes left to landing, I cut my losses and decided him and I would never be an “us.”

But then, five minutes later, I was bored again. I glanced over at his computer screen to see what kind of work he was doing. Mostly replying back to emails and using SalesForce. Trying to use my one good eye to do some detective work, I found out his full name, company, email address, and Instagram handle. Very stealthily, I opened up the Notes section of my iPhone and entered in all of his information, already planning the email I will send him once I get back home.

For a half second, I felt so incredibly pathetic and sad. I mean, sure this guy was attractive, and yes, our knees did touch for an entire 90 minutes, but if he wanted to talk to me, he would have talked to me. Why was I being so creepy by snooping on his computer screen and saving his contact information?

Because, ladies and gentlemen, that’s just who I am.

I put back on my music and assured myself I would never have those self-deprecating moments again. Well, until I put on a bathing suit.

At 8:48pm, we landed safely at LaGuardia airport, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. The passengers all grabbed their bags and headed off the plane, some back to their apartments and some to their hotels in the city. Feeling a sudden burst of redemption, I went to ask Mr. Biceps if he wanted to share a cab, but when I looked up to ask, he was already running towards the exit. “I guess it’s for the best,” I thought. Mostly because I am sure he wasn’t traveling to Astoria, Queens.

Once in my taxi, I pulled out my phone and found his Instagram account. He had already posted a picture of the NYC Skyline from the plane with the caption: “New York, New York! #beautiful #nyc #skyline #vacation #getmeadrink

It took everything for me not to double-tap the picture. Instead, I texted my friend, Louis, to tell him all about my encounter.

Me: I met the love of my life on my flight home tonight. He is tall, handsome, and has an incredible body. We talked the entire flight and he asked me to go for drinks tomorrow night. I think this is the one!

LB: No way! That’s so kewl! What did you guys chat about?

Me: Everything, Louis. All of it. Where we grew up, our families. Our jobs. Our dreams. It was incredible.

LB: That’s great.

Me: [Image Sent]

LB: Oh, wow! He is cute!

LB: …but where did you get that picture?

Me: I screenshotted it from his Facebook.

LB: He added you as a friend?

Me: Approaching home, gotta go!

At first I felt bad about lying to my friend, but we have this running joke between us that I am the desperate and pitiful one, and I just didn’t want him to think it was true.

So, maybe my plane ride wasn’t that exciting after all. I didn’t get a full cup of soda and I didn’t get the cute guy’s phone number. It probably wouldn’t have worked out anyways. But, just as my cab pulled up to my front door, I realized I did have one thing: that extra bag of pretzels.

 

An addendum: My email to Mr. Biceps

 

Hi there,

Right off the bat, I have to warn you that this may be the most random and strangest email you have ever gotten, so for that, I apologize.

My name is James and I was the man sitting next to you on flight 887 from Atlanta to New York City. (I was wearing the purple checkered shirt and definitely not playing Sudoku).

I wish I could come up with some amazing and riveting reason as to why I have attained your email address (I work for the CIA, I’m friends with your sister, etc) but, the truth is, I took a peek at your computer screen while you were on Gmail and wrote it down. By the way, I love how you spelled “dude” “d00d”. Very clever.

Anyways, I thought you were really cute and I was hoping to get a chance to talk to you more on our flight, but I was reading “War & Peace” and you were busily working, and I did not want to disrupt you.

As evidenced from your Instagram account (I’ll explain later) that you are in NYC for a few days visiting, and I would love the chance to take you out for a drink (I’ll even buy you your own can of Diet Coke).

I hope this email finds you well and you do not think I am creepy, weird, or pathetic. I just felt a connection with you and would hate myself if I didn’t at least take a chance. Someone in my high school yearbook used the quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and ever since I read that, it has been my life mantra. Well, that and “More bacon please” LOL.

Enjoy your vacation in New York, and I hope to speak (or see??) you soon.

Xo

James

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