Wednesday, June 10, 2015

An elevating experience

It's hard to maintain contact with the outside world when you're sequestered in a hotel in an undisclosed location and spending your days in a room full of super-smart people trying to thwart an evil plot to take over the world.

Except that's not quite what I'm doing. Once again I find myself in Louisville reading essays for the Test That Dare Not Speak Its Name, sworn to utmost secrecy about every detail of the test on threat of being beaten about the head and shoulders with a sheaf of student papers. So I really can't reveal anything about the actual work, but I'm happy to talk about elevators.

We spend a lot of time in elevators, of necessity. In past years my roommate and I have avoided the elevator problem by walking up and down the steps, but this year we're on the 22nd floor, which has its advantages (great view, no traffic noise) as well as disadvantages (I'm not walking up 22 flights of stairs; I walked down once and got horribly dizzy from all the turns). In the morning we hit the "down" button on the elevator and wait wait wait until an elevator finally stops for us, often empty--but it doesn't stay that way for long. With something like a thousand people all wanting to get down to breakfast at the same time, the elevator tends to stop at nearly every floor, so those of us who got in first keep getting pushed further back as new folks enter. Just at the point when I have my back shoved up against the wall and my nose jammed into some tall person's backpack, someone up front says, "Sure, we've got room for one more!" 

But somehow we've survived morning elevator madness and we were smart enough to bring fleece jackets to fend off the Arctic blast in the great big reading room. Ninety degrees outdoors, something like twelve below inside: how am I supposed to dress for that? And the food hasn't killed us. Yesterday there were blueberries on the breakfast bar! They almost made up for the "meatloaf with tomato gravy" served at supper, which appeared to be soggy cardboard topped with watery ketchup.

But, as I've said, we're surviving. So far. Two days down, five more to go. We can do this! (When we're done, I'm swearing off elevators for a while. No, we don't have room for one more!) 

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