Sunday, December 11, 2011

When the doors are shut

The other day, I got stuck in an elevator.

I’m gonna make this relate to my last post, I swear.  Just bear with me.

I had been in a basement conference room of my think-tank, participating in an evening event.  I had left my bag and coat at my desk upstairs, on the 6th floor, but had forgotten that the building closed at 7. Which means the elevators don’t work normally after 7. It was nearing 7:30.

Not a problem, I thought, I’ll just check in with the security guard in the lobby and he can help me out.

My friends clustered in the lobby, promising to wait while I retrieved my things. The security guard accompanied me back to the elevators and swiped an electronic passcode thingie (I’m sure that’s the technical term) to open the doors.

“Which floor?” he asked, as I stepped inside.

“The sixth.” He pressed the appropriate button and moved away. “Wait, don’t you have to come wi– ??” I started, concerned that my think-tank would let some random girl – who, after all, could be anybody – wander through the building after hours. What if there were state secrets just “lying around”?

Whatever, I shrugged to myself as the elevator started up.  Bing! First floor.

Then, the elevator shuddered to a halt. No happy little Bing – be happy, you reached the second floor! No doors sliding open. No nothing. Not even flickering lights – the elevator just stopped.

Ah, that awkward moment when you realize you are stuck in an elevator.

(Aside: Ok, SRSLY elevator? If you’re gonna trap me, at least make the lights flicker!)

Um, ok, I’m stuck in an elevator, I thought to myself, trying to keep calm. All right, none of the buttons are working…and mashing them over and over again doesn’t seem to change that. I looked for a handy red “EMERGENCY PULL” button. You know, something like this:

"Push to talk." Brilliant.

Did my elevator have one?


Did my elevator have any red buttons at all?


The closest thing my elevator had was a small yellow button that said “bell.”

(Aside: Um, yellow? Like my emergency doesn’t merit the color red?)
(Further aside: Um, “bell”?! How ‘bout “alarm” – anything that implies a bit more alacrity!)

Breathing heavily (read: angrily), I pressed the bell button. Let’s just say it didn’t have quite the “this is an emergency” tone I was looking for. It sounded like the bells in my high school that were used to signal the end of a class period.

I held that button down for at least several minutes. Did anyone come to my aid? Nope. They must have been too busy getting to third period calculus.

Okay, okay, I thought, pacing the small space (thank God I’m not claustrophobic).  What’s the Morse for SOS…is it long-short-long repeated three times, or short-long-short repeated three times? Dang it, where are all the Military Fellows when you need them!!

I tried both my Morse theories. They didn’t summon anyone.

I was ready to cry at this point, and probably not the most rational creature. Great, I’m gonna have to sleep here ALL NIGHT. Ugh, the floor is so gross! Why won’t this bloody box let me OUT!!

Then I grew calmer. Well, I’ll just pull an Arnold and pry the doors open. They do it on Star Trek all the time.

 I wedged my fingers into the door and heaved.

Fortunately, they sprang open as soon as I got them the first few inches apart. Turns out, the elevator had made it to the second floor and then just had a brain shut-down. Or something. I took the stairs back to the lobby.

The guard, and my friends, turned towards me. Thoroughly disgruntled, I explained what just happened. “Oh,” my friends said, “was that you making the bell sound?”

Yes, you idiots. Didn’t you hear the SOS? Does a bell going off in patterns at 7:30 at night sound AT ALL normal to you?

I still needed my bag, so the guard took me back to the elevator and re-swiped his card. Wait, I have to go back in there? I panicked. Then I mentally slapped myself and reminded myself I’m an adult.

This time the elevators operated without a hitch. I retrieved my bag and re-joined my friends.

As I lay in bed falling asleep that night, I remember thinking, Huh, I should turn this experience into a blog post. It could be a really cool metaphor for feeling stuck in life and not knowing how or where to move next…all the doors seem shut…you can either pry them open, or…or…

Or you can accept that some doors will remain shut.

I was recently turned down for an internship (a paid one! Huzzah!) that I really wanted.  Obviously, I’m disappointed – the experience would have really advanced my career and given me incredible opportunities.  But when God closes one door, he opens a window. Or, he opens another door. Or, he traps you in an elevator to teach you the value of sometimes clawing at closed doors until they open.

Does this mean I’m going to claw at that internship until I get it? Naw, probably not. Will I continue to claw at the job market until I find something? You betcha.

Because sleeping on the dirty floor of an elevator – aka, interning forever/remaining static/giving up and waitressing full-time – is simply not an option. And I know that someday, that door WILL spring open for me.  (Even if it takes a scary ride and an SOS to get there.)

For now, I’ve decided to remain at my current internship. For a variety of reasons, all carefully and prayerfully considered, I believe its benefits outweigh its cons.  And I believe it offers the most opportunity for an eventual job.

So where does that put me within my elevator analogy?

Psh, heck if I know. Sometimes an elevator is just an elevator.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hanging in Suspense

You may have noticed another long hiatus in my writing. This is becoming a habit, so I guess I’ll quit apologizing or making excuses. Seriously, though, I’ve been too busy to write! <<<  Excuse.

The end of the fall marks a serious transition point for us interns. Our commitments slowly come to an end, and we face once again an uncertain future and a viciously competitive job market. (And the scary realization that despite the 3 months we’ve put into our internships, we still don’t have sufficient “experience” to satisfy potential employers. Really makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?)

My point is, I’ve spent the last several weeks floundering over what to do with my life. Okay, to be honest, I’ve spent the last 12 months floundering over what to do with my life – but transition times condense all that stress into one long, terrible, grey-hair-producing, frozen-pizza-and-beer-eating, somewhat-hysterical-phone-calls-home experience.  You should try it sometime. I’m sure it’s good for the heart.

My head swirled with questions, and each day saw me resolved upon a new path.

I will be a JOURNALIST! Excuse me now, I’m gonna go cover the war in Afghanistan, brb….hmmm, no, I will actually study those TOP SECRET intel reports, because I’m a policy analyst and that’s what we do…scratch that, I’m pretty much a spy, and I’m gonna it.outta here…fine, screw the job market, I’m joining the military! 

All this uncertainty really made me a productive member of society.

I had a choice. Move on to another internship (possibly on the Hill? Possibly in a different field? Possibly with a different company?) or stay where I’m at. My company offered me a continued internship into the spring, and my boss offered to help me out a bit with the job search.

What to do…what to do…

(I eventually did make a decision, but if you think I’m gonna tell you right now then you clearly don’t understand the phrase “hanging in suspense”…nor have you read any trilogies.)

(Not that this is a trilogy…given my posting regularity, do we honestly think I’m capable of that?)

(The answer is no. I’m not.)