Elevator Pitch

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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Beautiful suspense. And transportation! Atelier Teee hide caption

itoggle caption Atelier Teee

Elevators have always seemed fancy to me. I know that sounds ridiculous — we've probably all been trapped in a decidedly humble elevator before — but when I was eighteen, and freshly moved to New York City, "elevator buildings" seemed the height of luxury to me. Those big loft elevators still seem gorgeously Carrie Bradshaw. The thing I really like about elevators is their slow curtain-up feeling — when the doors start to slide, you get to make your entrance, and people on either side of the doors have a second or two of suspense. Surprise! It's a handsome stranger. Poof! It's your landlord — to whom you owe the rent. Plus, that tiny little intimacy bubble with your neighbors or co-workers — trying to figure out what's poking out of their purse — is such a magical little moment. It is a total fantasy of mine to fall in love with someone I met in an elevator.* (That's not a euphemism — though I'm sure I've given a lot of really silly smiles to pleasantly confused members of the opposite sex. Spare me your Scarlett/Benicio comments.) In any case, The New Yorker has a lovely and extensive cultural history of the elevator — and we'll be talking to Nick Paumgarten about it today.

*Sigh. I fell in love on a train, which is sort of like a horizontal elevator.

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Four words: The Bob Newhart Show. Probably the best use of elevators in pop culture.

Sent by Anna | 3:44 PM | 4-14-2008

Back in the early 90's, my elderly mother and sister attended a January Pro Life rally at the Iowa State House Capitol in Des Moines. Their elevator fell about a story and a half and they had to crawl out. My mom, a political junkie, never went back, especially since the state of Iowa did not claim responsibility. (Love your show though!)

Sent by Maria Rosmann | 3:47 PM | 4-14-2008

When we adopted our infant daughter, she was inconsolable for the first few days. My husband discovered that the one thing that would calm her down was to ride up and down the mirrored elevator with her in his arms! he spent many hours in the middle of the night doing just that!

Sent by Sue Kolar | 3:51 PM | 4-14-2008

One sure way to upset my wife is to face the back of the elevator even if we are in conversation.

Sent by Frank Day | 3:53 PM | 4-14-2008

The most unusual elevator I have seen was the one at the city hall in Munich, Germany in 1972. The elevator doors were always open--in fact, there were not door just two openings on each floor. The elevator always moved slowly. To go up, you stepped onto the floor of the elevator as it appeared. You stepped off as the elevator came to the floor you wanted. The elevator ran continuously. Of course, I wondered what would happen when the elevator reached the top floor of the building, so I stayed on one time. At the top floor, instead of continuing vertically or turning over, the elevator moved sideways and began descending. A fun experience, but not very fun for older or physically disabled individuals.

Sent by Tim Morrison | 3:54 PM | 4-14-2008

I think that the "hold door open" button needs to be a lot bigger. Every time I want to use it to hold the door for someone I spend so much time looking for it that its to late by the time I find it.

Sent by Dan Huston | 3:54 PM | 4-14-2008

Why do people repeatedly press the call button as it that will make the car come faster. I suppose they have the concept that the elevator is powered by the pumping of call buttons.

Sent by C.E. Lear | 3:56 PM | 4-14-2008

I will never think of elevators the same after "Borat".

Sent by Judith Schoap | 3:56 PM | 4-14-2008

I was trapped in an elevator in the Excalibur, Vegas. Long story short: 45 minutes later, the group had bonded, and so, skipped the event they were heading to and instead, attended the wedding of one of the elevator riders (the groom). We were the only guests. We formed "bride's side" and groom's side" of the pews and had a receiving line after the wedding. The bride was astonished.

Sent by Ros Nelson | 4:00 PM | 4-14-2008

When this story ended, there was a question about the "mile high club." They mentioned on-air that they had a name for the elevator version that they could not say on-air, but would tell the anonymous questioner later.

I am NOT asking for recommendations from the crowd, as that could devolve. I would just like to know what the answer was.

Since the FCC is not involved in the internet (yet), this should be an acceptable forum.

Sent by Psyberian | 4:38 PM | 4-14-2008