"Elevator Talk - Vos iz der tachlis?"
(What is the purpose?)
by Marjorie Wolfe
For some Jews, an elevator is a cocktail
party that goes up and down. It's an endless
serch for the common ground--an Otis Blaboratory.
Before I reach my office/cubicle at
Ampersand, Ampersand & Ampersand, the Otis
Elevonic 40l is programmed to wisk me to the
82nd floor, but also to ask me, "vi gait dos
ge sheft?" (How's business?) and to wish me a
"guten tog" (a good day).
How could it be a "guten tog" when it's
Monday, my husband is home ill with the gout,
and my poodle is at the vet's office at $92.50
a day (Modified American Plan). To make
matters worse, I have the feeling that everyone
knows that I'm "oysgeputst" (overdressed).
Computerized speeh synthesis has permitted my "EVEN FLOOR ONLY"
to use its 111-word vocabulary. Thats 11 words more than my teenager's
after he's completed Stanley Kaplan's SAT
I must admit that the vocabulary can be
informative: at 8:59 in the morning it tells me,
"FLOOR EIGHTY-TWO, GOING UP," At
4:50 in the p. m. it says, "FLOOR EIGHTY-TWO GOING DOWN." That's
reassuring. It can also be quite annoying to
hear, "Mach es shnel" (Make it snappy) and
"Shemen zolstu zich in dein veiten haldz!"
(You ought to be ashamed of yourself!) when
Recently it said, "WATCH YOUR STEP."
Now I watch my step, watch my pocketbook,
watch my credit cards, and watch out for
shoplifters and gonifs.
During a recent blackout, the invisible
elevator "person" informed me: "zol zeis shah!"
(Be quiet!) and 'DO NOT BE ALARMED. WE
ARE EXPERIENCING A TEMPORARY
POWER INTERRUPTION." My chief concern
at that moment was why the elevator
inspection certificate was dated and initialed
5/2/2000--two years ago.
What really annoys me and makes me
feel inferior is when Elevonc starts impressing
me with its Bi-lingual capabilities. Just
yesterday it conversed in Yiddish:
It said, "shver tzu machen a leben!" (It's
hard to make a living!) "Takeh? Azoy."
(Really? Is that so?) I'm aware that the
jobless rate just rose to 6 percent and that
many of my friends are attending "Pink Slip
In a confidential letter to the Otis programmer, I've suggested
that the following
messages be added to the elevator's 111-word
A successful administrative assistant
continues to look for work after she's
found a job.
Yenteh's who gossip are often caught in
their own "mouh-trap."
Button for 82nd floor is out of order, push
70 and 12...and daven.
"Meshugeneh gens" (goofy parents) form
congenial groups in the rear of the elevator
instead of facing the front of the car.
You will be labeled "meshugener" (crazy)
if you draw a little square on the floor with
chalk and announce to the other passengers, "This is MY personal
And "zei nit a nar! Zei nit kain goylem!"
(Don't be a fool) and crack open your
attache case, peer inside, and say, "You
guys got enough air in there?"
And,finally, "gai shoyn, gai!" (don't be silly)
and call the Psychic Hotline from your cell
phone and ask if they know what floor you're
on. And, don't indicate to the other
passengers that they shouldn't give the
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is a free-lance writer
who resides in Syosset, New York.
from the June 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine