I work for the federal government with scientists and researchers who are attempting to solve the planet’s most sinister and crippling diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, etc. I can absolutely say that I have met a few of the world’s most brilliant scientific minds. However, the majority of them are clueless when it comes to common sense and even more inept when it comes to social interaction. That’s not the point of this post, but I thought it deserved to be said.
About 60% of the scientists that I work with are Asian or Pacific Islanders. Mixed amongst all the M.D.’s and Ph.D.’s are the rest of us grunts, from management on down to the housekeeping staff. There is often a language barrier, but over time, we can get it worked out. On Wednesday, I watched the Great Wall come tumbling down inside of a stuck elevator. We moved into a brand new building about 2 years ago and everything in the building has been in a constant state of disrepair, especially the elevators. Thank goodness that I work in the Director’s office and can just walk up one flight of steps to my office. I’m not claustrophobic or anything, but ya’ll do not want to see your girl stuck in an elevator. I guarantee you that it wouldn’t be pretty.
Anyway, usually my office gets a call about once a week from building management or an employee alerting us that there is a stuck elevator. On Wednesday, the call came in around 2pm and I took down the names of the 3 employees that were apparently stuck. I recognized the names and thought that it seemed an interesting grouping of employees. Maintenance is normally able to fix the problem, but Wednesday was different, so I called the fire department to dispatch emergency workers.
2 hours and 17 minutes later, the fire department freed the trapped workers. I was there when the 3 employees exited the elevator car, smiling and hugging each other. Wow, I thought, they must have bonded in those hours of being trapped. One of the gentleman, a middle-aged Japanese fellow, Dr. Liu, doesn’t speak much English, so I was curious as to how much he understood about their time together. The 2nd passenger was a redheaded bubbly college student, Amanda, who is interning at my agency for the summer. And, the 3rd passenger was our mail courier that travels the campus picking up and delivering everything from medical samples to people.
Dr. Liu and Amanda waved as they walked past me, but Tony, the mail guy, stopped to talk. Here’s what was said:
Me: Hey Tony. You alright?
Tony: Yeah, you know, I’m good. I don’t really like elevators, but them people were cool.
Me: Oh yeah? Dr. Liu doesn’t speak too much English, but he’s alright. Amanda’s only been here for 3 weeks, but she seems nice enough. What on earth did ya’ll talk about?
Tony grinned and pulled something from his right pocket.
Tony: What else? Spades, baby. I always have my cards on me and can you believe neither on them knew how to play? Man, it took me like an hour to explain, but after that, they got it. Hell, Dr. Sony won $10 off me and $5 off Annie. I gotta roll. You have a good night.
Clearly, all it takes is a well worn deck of cards andsome time to unite people from all walks of life. Maybe I need to send President Obama an email on this.