I must apologize to myself for the few posts on this blog. New/old events in Beirut never seize to happen, but time runs fast and I don’t stop to post reminders for myself and others about the uniqueness of life in this city.
Today, however, my story comes from Tripoli. This old city in North Lebanon.
But before I start with the story I have to point to a reference that we use as a joke in our daily life. The joke is about people who beat elevator doors to ask other people to close the door properly or hurry up. As I am sure you know, massive drumming on elevator doors DOES NOT make the elevator go faster. So, back to the story…
I was visiting my very good friend Sahar with Lama and Hanaa. And, contrary to customs, when she opened the door for us to leave, we actually left instead of staying at the door talking for an hour. I don’t particularly remember if Lama was holding the elevator door open or not, but I remember we walked out and directly went in to the elevator. Going down from the sixth floor. BOOM BOOM.
- What’s that? I said.
- Somebody wants the elevator.
- That’s weird. We just opened the door and went in. It was vacant ten seconds ago.
The elevator goes down slooooowly. The sound gets louder.
BOOM BOOM BOOM.
Someone is about to break down the door and someone is clearly PISSED.
I got scared. I was standing right behind the door and Lama, who is more courageous and stronger than I am, was standing inside. So I tried to squeeze in to switch places with her but I couldn’t. I was seriously worried. I can’t handle anybody screaming in my face.
– What if he has a gun?
The elevator goes down and is about to hit ground level. I searched for the stop button but didn’t find it.
This was the technical KO for me. In another place, it might be a joke. But in this country, in Tripoli, if SOMEBODY, or somebody who is the SON of somebody, or somebody who KNOWS somebody; if these people get pissed they may shoot at you for a stupid reason like not letting their car pass or, in that moment I thought, using the elevator when THEY needed it.
The elevator finally stopped. I didn’t open the door because I was expecting the “person in a hurry” to open it. But they didn’t. I looked through the stained glass and didn’t see a big black figure (as in my mind those “armed people” (msalla7een) usually dress. That gave me some courage so I -very politely- pushed the door and found… NOBODY.
I noticed a movement on my right hand. To my surprise, I saw a young girl, and then another girl. Maybe 8 & 9 years old.
Yes, they were pissed off. But they surely didn’t have guns. I couldn’t suppress a loud laugh as I exhaled heartily, to celebrate my survival from an elevator assassination.
But, then, I was also wondering, what in the world makes these two girls at their age impatient so much to use the elevator that they almost beat it to death? And I hope I don’t make them wait at an elevator ten or twenty years later. I am sure by then they’d probably be beating the hell out of it if they don’t find it waiting for them.