Monday, May 5

The incredible life of elevators

The New Yorker's Nick Paumgarten details the incredible life of elevators and those who make and ride them. The frame story tells about this man who took the longest ever cigarette break--41 hours, most of which he spent inside a stalled elevator. He asked for a beer when he finally got out, and then sued the building and settled for an undisclosed amount. What he didn't bargain for was that the ensuing trauma and law suit left him unemployed and with occasional media attention.

Elsewhere in the essay is a delineation into the kind of research that goes into building elevators. There is a minimum allowable space that a human must have, 2.3 square feet. Women can tolerate much less space, say 1.5 sq.ft, provided that it's mostly women. If men get in the picture, women cross their arms in an attempt to get more space. But the figures are much lower in Asia, where 25 Chinese people will "willingly" squeeze in an elevator meant for 11.

I'd hate to be trapped in an elevator, unless I'm Jeanne Moreau and sharing the car with me is Maurice Ronet in Ascenseur pour l'echafaud, aka Elevator to the Gallows, last viewed perhaps a decade ago in the French Spring film fest.

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