Rules of the Elevator

Discipline for Girls

By: - Jan 09, 2015


The Rules of the Elevator

There is no talking in the elevator
There are two enormous elevators
Each large enough to hold|
A whole class
Thirty girls
Thirty girls make a lot of noise
There is no talking in the elevator

You may only take the elevator if you are traveling more than four floors up
You may not take the elevator down
Unless you break your leg
Or you are a grown up
Grown ups can always take the elevator

The elevator ladies wear white gloves
And have little stools to sit on
There is no talking in the elevator
So the elevator ladies won't go crazy

Later I learned that the gloves prevent callouses
The enormous elevators are heavy
It takes strength to pull the big handle
Like a ship's wheel
That makes them go up and down

It takes skill to stop the elevator
Stop it from hurtling through the shaft
It takes skill to dock it exactly even with each floor
Release the handle too soon and it stops short

Too late and it rises too high
Then thirty girls have to climb or fall out
Which is dangerous

I found that there was joy in operating the enormous elevators
The whoosh of the outer doors
The clang of the inner doors
The hum of the motors
The ascent, the descent
The graceful glide to a perfect stop

The only day we could make noise in the elevator
Was the day we got out for Christmas vacation
(It was still called Christmas vacation then
And we sang Christmas carols together in the lobby
The whole school
Six hundred girls
Six hundred girls make a lot of noise)

The last song in the Christmas assembly
(It was still called the Christmas assembly then)
Was “Adeste Fideles,” which we sang in Latin
All three verses
And the rule was that you sang “Adeste Fideles” in Latin
All three verses
As you went up in the elevator
And as you went down the hall to your locker
As you gathered your books and put on your coat
As you went down the stairs and through the lobby
The whole building, fourteen floors from top to bottom,
Sang “Adeste Fideles” in Latin
All three verses
Over and over again
You sang until you were out the door
On east 83rd street
And then you stopped