Monday, May 16, 2011

The Stair Master

I almost never use the elevator at my office. It's not that I'm especially claustrophobic, although I have every right to use that excuse after getting trapped for nearly three hours on the twelve-and-a-halfth floor of one of Dayton's tallest office towers. It served me right for trying to sneak out of work ten minutes early.

And it's not necessarily all the unwritten rules of elevator etiquette I seem to be the only one to observe. (No eye contact, no unnecessary conversation, no facing any random direction, etc.) Our office park is so multicultural, I'm lucky when I don't have to share the lift with livestock.

I can legitimately complain our elevators are accessible to every handicap except color-blindness. This is because the elevator indicator is a single light with red indicating "going up" and green indicating "going down". Or is red going down? It doesn't matter because I can't tell if the light is red or green. I usually end up visiting the penthouse every time I try to get to the lobby.

But mostly I just like using the stairs. It's the perfect way to insert exercise into a job that's otherwise so sedentary it makes Jabba the Hut look like Jack LaLane. I work on the third floor so I can typically climb there as quick or quicker than using the elevator.

So Saturday morning when I found myself in the stairwell of Atlanta's Equitable building, I was in my element. Julie, JB and I were there to participate in the American Lung Association's "Climb for Life" fund-raiser. It's a 32-story climb which can be done once or twice. Possessing some semblance of a Y-chromosome, I signed up for the double climb.

When my starting time came (15 seconds behind Julie) I bounded up the stairs two at a time thinking "this is just like going to work." I hoped Julie wouldn't cry when I passed her. Sort of. Then something happened I wasn't prepared for... the fourth floor.

By the tenth floor I was gasping for breath and gladly accepted the water bottle handed to me by a race volunteer. At each landing I stopped to catch my breath as senior citizens and former Biggest Loser contestants passed me by. At the 20th floor I was wondering if anyone would notice if didn't do the second climb.

I found Julie at the top waiting for the elevator ride down to climb the 2nd stairwell. She waited for my vital signs to stabilize before encouraging me to give the second climb a try. As I took the elevator down, I wondered where JB was. It was only a little over a year since his hip replacement and I started to worry, imagining him slumped somewhere on the 18th floor.

The second climb wasn't any easier than the first, but it wasn't any more difficult either. I took it slow and easy, encouraging Julie to continue at her own pace and leave me behind. (I didn't want to "Monique" her.) Around the 4th floor I heard a familiar voice echoing in the stairwell with a tone of distress that gripped me with panic. "How in the hell do I get out of here?!" It was JB. I was afraid of this. I talked him into doing the climb and now he was in trouble. I should have known it was too much for him. I should have known he wouldn't be able to finish it.

Turned out that instead of taking the elevator to the 29th floor where the post-race celebration was to be held, he accidentally went all the way back down to the 1st floor where the race volunteers shunted him back into the stairwell. He'd already finished two climbs and now he was passing me on his third trip up.

I should have known not to worry about JB.


  1. Very well done for doing it though Pac! I'm not a fan of stairs. I work on the 7th floor of our building and should I have to use the stairs I usually have an undertaker, coffin and pallbearers waiting for me on the third floor...

  2. I know, right? 30+ floors... No problem. Until your calves are burning at 10.

  3. You are a braver and heartier man than I. Good for you, I just hope your legs will forgive you.

  4. that climb is going to make those legs of your super cute