As a mischievous nine-year-old, Elevators were a temptation for me. My first do-it-yourself push button elevator was quite memorable. The great and elegant Prado Hotel in Mexico City was the choice location for my celebrated Aunt to have her first international art exhibit. All of our family showed up for the occasion. After everyone checked in, we commandeered the luggage and all piled on to one of four elevators in the lobby. The buttons indicating the floor number lit up when you pushed them. How cool was that!? We were booked in a room somewhere near the top. After a short squabble among the kids, to see who would get to push the button, we were off. Gliding almost silently up the tall building. When the door finally opened, everybody, noisily laughing and chatting, piled out together.
Not too long ago, I had to perform a funeral. A young man lost his life in a car wreck. He left behind a wife, two children and many friends. I remembered that first elevator ride. It would be nice if life were more like my first elevator trip. To have everybody pile into life together and when life was over, all our loved ones would step into eternity laughing and chatting… together. It doesn’t work that way. Sorry. We all have to get off the elevator one at a time.
I also got to perform four weddings that year. All of them joyous reunions of family, friends and well-wishers, brought together by a couple vowing to love each other till the end of the ride. They too made me think of my elevator story. At the Prado Hotel, us kids couldn’t wait to scamper back to the magic elevator. It was such fun to welcome people on at the ground floor and ask them with great ceremony what floor we could convey them to. We would push the button unaware of the adults rolling their eyes at each other over our heads. My sisters and various cousins divided up the elevators and escorted people to their designated floors. One big family was having relatives in for some kind of reunion. The excitement came when the elevator doors would open and long time friends shouted greetings and embraced. It was like doing the weddings. Some would get on and get off alone.
Some times there were a few too many on the elevator. It made the trip uncomfortable. Some times people got a little irritated that they couldn’t push their own buttons. When we discovered, in our elevator adventure, that we could push all the buttons at once the adults got irritated and eventually we were tracked down and our elevator privileges were yanked!!
Doing weddings and funerals have reminded me often of the importance of people. It is so easy to get caught up in the importance of the elevator; especially those of us who are in a hurry to get where we are going. Pushing the buttons should be our right. A fellow rider standing too close or bumping us is so irritating. It is easy to get huffy demanding our space, defending our little corner, or pushing back at those who push us. We forget that the ride is short. Everybody has to get off sometime.
Did you ever notice how nobody talks on elevators. We all just stare up at the numbers ticking by. Our own destination is so critical we forget about those who are riding with us. Life can become just like that; so focused on our own agenda that nobody else matters.
The Bible encourages us to “be happy with others that are happy, share the sorrows of those who are sad. Live in harmony with each other. As much as possible, do your part to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:15,18
How you treat people does matter. It’s Elevator stuff. Important stuff. So I have come up with some essential rules for riding life’s elevator.
1. Be nice to everybody, the ride is short.
2. Don’t push all the buttons, you can’t always run the show.
3. Be patient during unexpected stops.
4. Forgive quickly, you never know when someone is getting off.
5. Don’t get too attached to the elevator, it isn’t your permanent home.
As I travel sharing SandStories it is always a delight to meet new people and ride on their elevator, even if it is only for a short time. Here is a link to a SandStory I told a while back called “A Mothers Prayer”