Magazine Preview: Hamilton Hellivator

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Nina Pedrad takes a ride in the Hamilton elevator and then makes up a story about it for The Blue and White. It’s fiction!

You wanna know how it happened, gumshoe?

It was daytime and I was late (typical). Packing those snacks for the subway always turns into AP Ziploc Baggies.

My low heels bolted down Low Steps toward a certain seven story building on the east side of campus. Late wasn’t an option. My 417 IAB tricks wouldn’t fly in 714 Hamilton. See, in 714 Hamilton the chairs were arranged in a circle, the graduate student meant business, and late meant an F. Attendance was 100% of the grade. But to get to 714 Hamilton, you needed to bleed patience. Because unless you were a cyborg, to get to 714 Hamilton, you needed to take The Elevator.

Don’t look so scared kid, the story’s just getting started.

A stampede of brainless, walking skulls stormed out of the building just as I headed in. Snaking between canvas book bags, past the stained glass homage to Sophocles, I landed in front of The Doors. The Doors to… The Elevator.

A tiny bright dot lit the “up” button, mocking the gaggle waiting to ascend. There was the lost PhD student, perpetually confused. The skinny kid with cinna-bun headphones. The princess in pearls and loafers. The prick in loafers and cashmere. The don’t-look-at-me’s and the please-look-at-me’s, in cotton and neon, respectively. And then me. Late.

We stood, waiting. We’d all exchanged tight lipped smiles, checked our phones, checked our hair, watched each other check phones and hair. Minutes passed. Endangered species died. The Doors finally opened.

I had one foot in when a human seatbelt arm flung in front of me. “It’s going down,” said cinna-bun. “Thanks,” I say back. Sea Wolf, not bad. A ripple of sighs from the gaggle as they realized they’d been duped by the Vator.

Get used to it.

Back up to two, and this time we were playing for keeps. We filed in, until filing became crowding, and crowding became jamming, and some asshole in a popped collar flings a boat-shoed foot in to hold the door, allowing three more people into the swarm, all headed to the fourth floor. Not even the fifth, that purgatory. The fourth. The prick’s index finger is white with the pressure – he’s hit the “door close” button so many times. And the princess is wedged between itchy neon tights and the Ph.D. student’s weird canteen. A don’t-look-at-me runs out, whimpering. And I’m still late.

Up we go. The doors open on floor—three? The elevator rolls its collective eye. An old woman with a walker gets on. The entire elevator is going to hell. The old woman smells like garlic. This is hell. A smile intended for cinna-bun catches hold of the prick instead. He winks back. Heat rises faster than we. I contemplate cremation.

Floor four. The four Polo musketeers get off. The original gaggle breathes a sigh of relief, bonded by a common enemy.

And then the lights go out. And someone screams.

Illustration by Cindy Pan

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  1. typo  

    nina pedrad, not predrad.

  2. Overheard

    "Fiction? I hate reading fiction. Why should I read fake stuff when I could read something real?"

  3. Anonymous  

    The illustration for this is beautiful!!

  4. aha

    "Minutes passed. Endangered species died. The Doors finally opened."

    Got to give the author props. Every year I get at least two classes in Hamilton, and being a lazy bum, I take the elevator every time. I know the feeling of the shared enemy. Sometimes, going to the sixth floor, my classmates and I exchange looks when people are too lazy to take the stairs, slowing us down when we have ~30 seconds to get to our classroom before class starts.

    Of course, I also take the elevator to floor five, so I'm a hypocrite. There's nothing like being that person going to floor four, though - or the person who runs down the stairs from the main floor to get into the elevator before the line can. Those people always have such guts.

  5. nina pedrad

    is awesome. kudos.

  6. uh  

    it's not that hard to take the stairs up to the seventh floor. it even takes less time than waiting for the hellivator.

    in any case, this is interesting. could you fix the typo that says "the lights got out?"

    unless, of course, I'm missing the point and the lights actually got out of the elevator because they were sick of how effin slow it is too.

  7. Anonymous  

    GORGEOUS illustration

  8. as Patricia Kitcher always says  

    "The people who take the Hamilton elevator are the most courageous people in the world [because almost without exception there will be someone sick in each ride]."

  9. 7th floor class attender  

    it has been tested and tried repeatedly- (if the elevator makes more than a couple stops and you're in shape) yes, taking the stairs up to the top is indeed faster than taking the elevator. and the illustration is cute but inaccurate- should've squashed about five more people in the back there. oh, and made the space smaller.

    and you forgot about the part where the basement is labeled as the ground floor so in the beginning of the semester everyone presses the wrong button and you get another 5 minutes of waiting.

    Columbia, couldn't you put in a faster one? Maybe? more learning would happen in this college if people could spend less time trapped in an ugly gray box of horrors.

  10. Anonymous  

    nina pedrad rocks. end of story.

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