When I ride my bike to work, I’m lucky enough to have a cage in the building where I can secure it. The only problem is, it’s in the basement. Actually, the sub-basement. I have to shoulder my bike and haul it down two flights of stairs. Still, it’s better than leaving it locked to a rack outside. I’ve had too many parts stolen over the years to bother with that option anymore.
I’m very careful when descending into the bowels of the building. Carrying a bike down the stairs can be tricky and I always concentrate, taking note of every step and making certain of my foot placement. There’s not much traffic down there and if I took a tumble into the darkness, I’m not sure how many people would think to look for me down there.
But worse than my 127 hours fear of being trapped in an abandoned stairwell, I have a fear of losing my keys.
See, the cage where I lock my bike is itself behind a locked door (located before the second flight of stairs) and so I always have my keys in hand as I descend the second set of stairs. That staircase makes a turn partway down and abuts to another locked cage. If my keys slip from my hand, they could easily fall between the concrete steps and the cage, lost forever!
This isn’t a new fear. The same thing happens every time I get on or off an elevator. I grip extra tight to anything in my hands. That gap between building and the elevator car may look narrow, but trust me: it’s a black hole.
Years ago, I used to work for an elevator company, right by dispatch. Every day – literally – we would get at least one call from a building manager informing us that someone had dropped keys or papers or something down the elevator shaft. It never ceased to amaze me that this many people were juggling stuff as they entered/exited the lift – or even worse, that so many of these drops would actually result in something slipping into that gap! I had visions of people actually dangling things in the gap just to see if they would fit! But that can’t be.
There was a $100 charge to get the elevator maintenance guy to retrieve any lost item. I don’t have $100 to spare, so I learned to grip my things tightly any time I sense there’s a chance they could slip into an inaccessible space.
But this instinct has never become second nature. I actually think consciously about this entire scenario each time I get on an elevator. Each time I cart my bike to the basement. In other words, I have essentially written this same blog post in my head countless times; I just never realized it until today.
Maybe setting it down in a tangible form will help me move past voluntary to involuntary, but I doubt it. I’ll probably just continue to revise the mental blog post and become increasingly dissatisfied with this real one.