A few years ago, I used to have a personal rule that I lived by stating that I would take the stairs instead of an elevator if I happened to be carrying food. To be honest, I’m pretty sure I could use to lose a few pounds here and there, and it’s been that way for quite a while, which is a far cry from back when I was the designated 70-pound guy on my junior high wrestling team, being around mostly to pick up forfeits because most of the other schools didn’t have a 70-pounder. I figured that my eating habits probably weren’t (and still aren’t) the best in the world, and that I should probably try to get in at least a little bit of exercise along the way. At the time, I was working at Microsoft, where most of the buildings on main campus have no more than three stories thanks to a now obsolete height restriction imposed by the City of Redmond building codes. I was also living in a ground floor apartment, so it was rare that I would find myself more than a couple of stories off the ground.
Fast forward a few years, and that particular rule has pretty much gone out the window. Living eight floors up in a highrise apartment and working in a ninth floor office tends to make the whole “using the stairs” bit a somewhat less attractive option. To be honest, I’m not even sure how you’d take the stairs to get up to the office where I work, or if it’s even possible to do so. I do know where the stairs would be to take them, but with my car’s assigned parking space being on the third level of the garage, getting to my apartment would require going up 9 flights of stairs. It would be ten, but oddly enough, this building has no fourth, thirteenth or fourteenth floors. The 13th floor is missing for the usual reasons, but from what I’ve heard, the 4th and 14th floors were omitted because the architect of this building is Japanese, and in that culture the number four is considered unlucky. Oddly enough, there is still a P4 in the parking garage. Anyway, it doesn’t matter how many floors are missing along the way for one reason or another, when it all boils down, that’s still a lot of stairs to be trying to haul a load of groceries up. Even without groceries to deal with, I don’t think I’ve made the stair climb up to my apartment more than once or twice in the fifteen months or so that I’ve lived here.
Needless to say, when you live in a place like this, the elevators tend to be a bit less of a convenience and more of a necessity than they might be when you’re living closer to ground level. In fact, this is so much the case that this building is equipped with a rather large diesel generator, which mostly serves the purpose of keeping the elevators running in the event of a power failure. It also means that unless you really want to take the stairs, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself riding the elevators at least a couple of times a day. This particular building is equipped with three elevators, two at the north end of the building, and one designated as a freight elevator at the south end. And if any one of the three goes down for one reason or another (be it an elevator reservation for someone who is moving, or a mechanical issue) it can make getting around the building difficult at best. Having two elevators down (as has been known to happen on occasion) will just make a mess. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a situation where all three elevators were down, but at that point you might as well just stay in.
Then again, another thing I’ve noticed while I’ve lived here is that the elevators tend to function as the unofficial social center of the building, and most of the times I see my neighbors happen in the elevators. Aside from a bit of space back behind the building which is mostly taken up by a big water feature, there really isn’t anything that could be called a yard around here (and unless I really want to go out and play on the freeway, there isn’t a front yard at all.) There’s the lounge in the other building and the French Bakery in the atrium, but I don’t end up at either of them all that often these days. This pretty much leaves the elevator as a place for running into people and saying hi. After all, everyone’s going to end up there at some point eventually, right?
In a way, elevators become one of those mundane everyday things that in most cases you don’t really notice until you either end up waiting an excessively long time for one (more than about 30 seconds or so) or one of the things breaks down, leaving you either having to take the stairs or in some hopefully rare cases, stuck in one. You start taking them for granted after a while, but you’d definitely notice if they weren’t there. Especially if it meant walking up nine flights of stairs.