“It Has Its Ups and Downs”

Elevator Operator.

How many people do you know can list that on their résumé?

I can.

Yeah, I know, totally cool.

Or Not. Depends on your perspective.

I was in college. The summer between freshman and sophomore year I decided to stick around campus, get a couple of part-time jobs, take a summer-sized load of classes (very few, but daily) and hit as many parties and social events as I could.

The copy/print shop job I really wanted went to someone else. I ended up applying for anything and everything that was left.

Summer Jobs

I got hired for two positions on campus. Not sure the first job had a real title. Basically I either rubber-stamped the glow-in-the-dark ink on the hands of students going into dances, or I held the fluorescent light that showed they’d already been stamped. Dances were always on the weekend. It kind of cut into my plans to go dancing myself, or going out much at all.

English: LED elevator floor indicator

The other job I landed was elevator operator. There weren’t that many floors in any of the buildings on campus, but summertime brought out the bored students, the local teens and the let’s-make-out-in-weird-public-places couples. So they wanted someone maintaining control of the elevator. I usually only worked when there was “an event” in one of the restaurants in the student union center, or if there was a dance. Again, weekend hours mostly.

Fortunately, the elevator stayed busy. Surprise registered on most people’s faces as they stepped on board and saw an elevator operator.

It was a sort of dream come true for me.

Back in the Day

I remembered as a kid, only a decade or so earlier than this summer job, riding the elevator in JC Penney. The elevator operator sat on a small metal stool next to the buttons. He’d open the door with a button, and then manually push open the crisscross cage doors, and then we’d step in the elevator, my over-active imagination peering into the miniscule gap between floor and elevator, fearing for my life.  When we were all loaded into the small metal box, the operator would lean out a bit through the open door and holler, “going up?” in a sort of question/statement.

English: This is the controls on a dover elevator

Seeing no one, he’d pull the gate closed, and then push the button that closed the solid metal doors. Then he’d ask, “Which floor please?” To which each person would reply with a number and a “please.” Going down offered the basement level as well.  I’d wait for that swooshy stomach feeling as the elevator pulled up to the next floor or dropped down a level. I loved/hated that feeling for its mixed sense of excitement and dread.

I always wanted to push those buttons, make them light up, be the one in charge of the numbers over the door as they changed. I thought it’d be a great job to have. It came in a close second to candy counter salesgirl.

Dream Come True, Sort of

I wasn’t lucky enough in my new job on campus to have a stool to sit on, or a gate to pull shut. Everything was automatic. I did get to ask which floor, and push the buttons. By time I was in college no one said “please” or “thank you” when they requested their floor, or when they exited the elevator. I earned some spending money, met tons of people, learned to make small talk in a brief amount of time, and became comfortable being around strangers. It was a good experience.

Very Punny

There was one perk to that job that I really liked.  When my roommate or a friend would ask how work had been, I could reply, “Oh, you know, it has its ups and downs.”

I could never resist a pun, good or bad.

What’s the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

Categories: Memory Lane, The World | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on ““It Has Its Ups and Downs”

  1. Leanne

    Pretty boring…frozen yogurt girl. I never knew you were an elevator operator! I learn something new about you every day from your blogging. 😀


  2. Anonymous

    I never knew that about you either. I loved that elevator at JCPenney! and their candy counter was the best!! I actually got to work behind it but only in the new location at the mall. You are full of surprises


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