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Living Out Loud: : Chain Letters, Miracles & Trendy Shoes

The elevator story

By Susan Burke Steege · September 1st, 2004 · Living Out Loud
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Dragging the bags under my eyes into work, I sat down at my computer and stared. I sighed. I then rose from my desk and poured the first of a dozen cups of bad coffee.

It was Monday morning, and I was again feeling the fatigue and the dismal defeat of having to face another work week.

Imagine yourself on that Monday morning: tired, possibly hung-over and trying to suck down your third cup of coffee as you open your daily e-mails. You see a familiar name and slowly sink down into your chair as you obligingly click to open the note.

With the resounding ding of the e-mail it pops up -- the dreaded chain letter.

We all get them. The most insipid variety of this hideous modern e-plague, rating high on the irritability scale, is inspirational or religious in orientation. Sometimes it involves an incident surrounding a child on crutches, with cancer or some other horrid ailment that you don't even want to consider happening to someone you know or, for that matter, to a total stranger.

The first phase of the inspirational chain letter usually involves a heart wrenching tale. My e-mail, for instance, described a young boy who threw a rock at a car that was coming down the road in a last-ditch effort to obtain help in getting his little brother back into his wheelchair before he was hit by a car.

The next phase of the e-mail involves a miraculous event that's designed to make you suddenly stop and realize that life is indeed so very precious. And, like a brick smashing through your front window, you're called to snap out of your Monday morning funk, develop a spring in your step, a tune to your whistle and a generally all-around nice demeanor.

E-mails like this annoy the crap out of me. I mean, is it likely that some kid is actually going to throw a rock at your car and you're going to angrily slam on your brakes, hurl yourself out of your vehicle and storm up to that runny-nosed little bastard? Come on, get real.

But as the e-mail goes, there you are, feeling like a grade-A schmuck, fumbling over yourself to help the immobilized boy back into his wheelchair, apologizing profusely and maybe even offering to pay for his college education.

OK, I guess you could say I'm a cynic. Have been for most of my life. But I'm here to tell you that miracles actually do happen!

I know this because one happened to me just the other day -- last week, in fact, and on a Monday morning.

The evening before my miracle, I tossed and turned and was unable to sleep. I awoke tired and was late getting ready for work. To make matters worse, I was feeling rushed, because during my last morning chore I dribbled toothpaste down the front of my blouse. I normally try to brush my teeth before I dress, like normal people, but was feeling lucky so I thought I'd risk it. I paid the price.

Of course, I couldn't simply find another blouse to go with the slacks I'd picked out, so I needed to change my entire outfit. Then my shoes didn't match. Quickly, I shoved my feet into the nearest pair of shoes I could find crammed under my bed, which happened to be brown sandals, the trendy ones with tall soles.

I considered this a thunderbolt sign that I was going to have a really bad day. I even thought about calling in sick from my cell phone and going back home.

There I stood in a totally different outfit with mismatching tall shoes, in the lobby of our building, waiting on the elevator.

From my experience and from the chain letters I've read, it seems that miracles happen when a person least expects them. For Dr. Beck Weathers, his miracle was simply opening his eyes atop Mt. Everest after surviving a night of subzero temperatures. For others, it's an unexpected thunderstorm in the Kalahari Desert after a four-month long drought.

But for me, my miracle was much more understated, although not any less powerful. It was an epiphany, and it happened shortly after I walked through the elevator doors.

As we ascended toward the 18th floor, it suddenly hit me: I was the tallest person on the elevator. I couldn't believe it. Me, 5-foot-2!

Before we go any further, I know what you must be thinking. No, I wasn't the only person on the elevator. There were four others on with me. And I was the tallest.

A rush of excitement and emotion suddenly enveloped me as I realized I could see the tops of everyone's heads. I scanned the group down below me and felt tall and powerful. I laughed a small, dry, scoffing laugh as I realized I could crush these little people down below me. How tiny they must feel. How simple and insignificant their lives must be.

It was an empowering moment to realize how the "other half" lives, the taller half. I felt I could accomplish anything that day. All I needed to do was ask, and nothing would be impossible.

I straightened myself up as tall as I could and majestically, stepped off the elevator.

But suddenly, in a deliberate twist of fate, my ankle twisted as I stepped over the threshold of the elevator. I stumbled into the 18th floor lobby falling straight to the floor. Those damn sandals.

It was embarrassing and humiliating. Others around me looked onward, quickly walking past and avoiding my surprised and pleading glances. I even heard someone whisper, "She's such an idiot."

I arose, red-faced and ashamed. But on that day, I made myself a vow.

I would always wear tall shoes to remind myself of where I come from, to realize that no matter what problems and limitations I might face as I walk through the lobby of life there will always be someone shorter than me.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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