Three of my worst fears came true this week. This is a true story, and one I did not ever expect to recount, but it’s just so unlikely that I cannot leave it untold. I had a bad day. I think the only way to look at it is that I am due for some fantastic great luck very soon!
- First, I got stuck in an elevator at work. The weird thing is that it was not even my first time. The first time was in Italy, in the little seacoast town of Ladispoli where my mom, my grandparents, and I were living as refugees. There is more to that story, but not today. Today, it’s about how my mom and I were visiting some other refugee friends in a building with an elevator, and I decided to open the elevator door to see what would happen. It was one of those old cage elevators, and it was coin operated. I do not think my mom even noticed that I was the culprit, because the alarm immediately went off and there was a lot of commotion. Of course, we had no more coins to get the elevator going again, being refugees (I did not think that through). Luckily, the friends we were visiting had a coin, and were able to slide it into the cage for us to get moving again. So when I say I got stuck in an elevator in Italy, what I really should say is, I was an idiot child and stopped the elevator due to my own naughty curiosity.
This week’s experience was not quite the same. My work partner was going to look at the new office space in the building next door. He had four women with him—the landlord’s rep, the furniture rep, the interior design rep, and someone else whose name and function I did not catch—and I felt that I needed to tag along to be sure that I did not get saddled with a windowless office, or no office, or far from the kitchen, or other similar debacle. Serves me right. We were going to the fifth floor, and barely made it past the fourth when the elevator shuddered to a stop. Well, it did not really shudder, it just stopped moving, and it actually took us a few seconds to clue in to what happened. All buttons were pushed, and 911 was called. It took over an hour and a half, because in this day and age (and litigious society), hopping out of an elevator between floors, from about waist-height, is apparently frowned upon. My partner was ready to spring into action and out of the elevator, and had a rather funny chest-pounding (figuratively) altercation with the elevator guy. The four women, clad in short tight dresses and high heels, took selfies and fretted. I, mentally kicking myself for not visiting the bathroom before going off with them and for not grabbing my cell phone, tried to calm everyone down by telling my Italian elevator story (omitting the part about my part in it) and the story of how a neighbor back home, Aunt Vera’s son, had his legs crushed when an elevator car fell with him in it, but survived. He even drove a special “invalid car”, as they were called in those non-PC days, meaning all the controls were hand-operated. Surprisingly, neither story was received in the spirit it was told. Eventually we were rescued, and the landlord sent us bagels and coffee next day. I expected a month of free rent.
- Second, I was bitten by a dog. This was truly my worst fear for many years. I had a nemesis dog in my childhood, Mickey, who belonged to another neighbor, Aunt Rimma. He roamed the neighborhood off leash, as dogs did in those days, terrorizing children. I remember an occasion when my friend Tanya and I were desperately holding closed the outside door to the apartment building where she lived (Mickey lived right above Tanya), because he was barking madly on the street and we were afraid that he will barge in and tear our throats out. For reasons that are passing understanding, I have a photo of this monster beast—pretending to be friendly and peaceful. This must have been after he fell off the second floor balcony. He broke his leg and was never as ferocious after that.
So, living for decades with the fear of being mauled by a dog, I finally was—and lived to tell the tale. I was walking with my spouse and my two dogs (yes, I have two, two dogs—another story for another time), and my baby dog, Vanya, picked up this huge crust of bread off the sidewalk two doors from our house. Of course, I tried to pry her teeth apart and get the bread out, and of course she was desperate to keep her teeth clamped shut while chewing as fast as she possibly could. Next thing I knew, sharp pain, blood everywhere. I fell onto the grass, crying. I am not proud of this. I was a little overly dramatic, because the pain was not the worst I ever felt. It was more the shock of seeing my bloody middle finger with a missing nail. But the joke is on Vanya, because my nails are fake.
- Finally, when I came home, with my finger wrapped in paper towel offered by a kind neighbor, I decided to enjoy a calming mug of beer. And here is the worst thing—I spilled the beer all over myself and my couch. I can’t even blame the shock of the dog bite. I have all these cords from my phone, my Kindle, and my laptop on the couch, and the beer mug tangled up in them and fell. Mad dog Vanya immediately started licking the couch. I drank YooHoo instead (also good). Now my couch (#100 on the list of my favorite things) smells like beer. So maybe it was not a waste after all.