The Magic of Elevators


Some kids are fascinated by elevators. Aka lifts. Aka liffts as they are creatively known in Wales.

They like to push all the buttons.

Me, I was fascinated by escalators. When given the choice, I always preferred using an escalator, as I thought there was something rather magical in a moving staircase, provided you get out of the way at the end so your feet don’t get eaten. I still love escalators and tend to prefer them to this day.

Elevators have always made me feel slightly claustrophobic (unless it’s a glass elevator, those are cool), for the same reason I always get a window seat on a plane. Speaking of, I admit I’m a bit nervous to find that I’ll be leaving Kwaj on a plane with no windows, so my last look at the island as I walk up the steps to board, will indeed be my last look at the outside world for several hours until I get off at Hickam AFB in Honolulu. At the same time, it’s kind of cool that I’ll get the chance to fly on a C17, for the first and likely last time in my life.

But I digress.

When my company sent me to Kwajalein two years ago, they arranged for me to stay in a not inexpensive hotel in Honolulu, the night before taking my flight here. The Ala Moana Hotel is a lovely place, and is adjacent to the Ala Moana Mall, making it an ideal choice if you make it to Hono in time to do some shopping.

You can see the top of one of Ala Moana's towers on the right, with the two antennae on top.
You can see the top of one of Ala Moana’s towers on the right, with the two antennae on top.

When I checked in, I was told my room would be in a tower (12th floor or something like that) for which I would need my room key to access the elevator. Every room above the 4th floor requires the guest to insert the key card inside the elevator and then push the right button to go up. I had never before stayed in a hotel where this was required.

I walked rather doubtfully to the elevators, and pushed the up button. One of the four sets of doors opened, and I rolled my bags inside and took a look at the panel. Just then some other people walked in, inserted their card, pushed their button, and the doors closed. I tried to quickly push my button as well, but it didn’t light up, and was afraid of making too much a fool of myself by fumbling with my card when I didn’t know what I was doing, so I played a greater fool and silently pretended I was going to the same floor. (I’m the same helpless person who to this day has not been able to figure out how to work an entertainment center on the seat in front of me on a plane, even while watching a six-year-old next to me power hers up and fly through the options and get to watch a movie.)

Once the others got off, I inserted my card and pushed my button. Sadly I was not fast enough, though, and the elevator went up past my floor and the doors opened and someone else got on, and pushed the ground floor button. I again could not get the elevator to stop in time at my floor, and so I continued going up and down a few times before I finally humbled myself to ask someone for help.

Despite this faux pas, I have stayed at the Ala Moana three times since while traveling back to Kwaj after vacations, as it is a good hotel and well located.

The view from my room (looking down on the mall), after I managed to find it.
The view from my room (looking down on the mall), after I managed to find it.

On my last visit, a month ago, I ran into a similar problem. My room was on the 5th floor, and the hotel staff told me where the elevators were. (Yeah, yeah, I had done this three times before and had it down now, or so I thought.) I went to the main elevators, pushed the up button, and walked in. I was about to insert my key when I saw THERE WAS NO 5TH FLOOR! Just like in superstitious hotels where the buttons skip from floor 12 to floor 14, this elevator went from button 4 to button 6.

Hmm. Not to be deterred, I coolly swiped my card and pushed button 6. On floor 6, I looked around for the stairs. I searched what felt like half the floor (come on, where are the fire maps showing where to evacuate in case of emergency?), and all I found to help me were some more elevators. I thought I might try these, as I was correct in assuming by now that only certain elevators stopped at certain floors in the tower (maybe I should have listened to the staff?).

I pushed the down button, and it wasn’t long before a set of doors opened, and to my slight dismay I saw the elevator was occupied by another young woman. I quickly inserted my card and pushed the now apparent button 5.

“Only going down one floor?” she asked.

“Yes, I wound up going up in an elevator that didn’t have a 5th button.”

Looking like she was trying to suppress her laughter, she said, “well now you’ll have to just go back up, as it looks like you weren’t fast enough to get it to stop at your floor.”

Down at the ground floor again, I finally managed to get the elevator to go up and stop where I wanted it to. Whew.

Following my flight to Hono on a plane with no windows, I will be staying a 5th (and possibly last, or at least for a long while) time at the Ala Moana. Let’s hope I manage to find my room on the first try this time.

Come on, where are the escalators?

3 thoughts on “The Magic of Elevators”

    1. 🙂 I didn’t think so as it was happening, but I certainly laugh at it now! (And I’m sure anyone who saw me must have been laughing and/or scratching their head with wonder)

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