One recent afternoon as I was on my way in for yet another appointment, the elevator door opened and its sole occupant, a very dignified, if momentarily distressed, older woman, poured out into the lobby. As she left the elevator, she declaimed, so the assembled waiting crowd could hear clearly, "They're working on the sewers in the basement, oh dear me, dear me...."
She shuffled through the small crowd and ankled her way to the anonymity of the busy lobby. We politely loaded into the elevator, all Alphonse-and-Gaston -- after you, no after you -- and were greeted by the most horrifying miasmatic stench that ever slugged human nostril. I mean, ho-lee Jesus it was awful. Notes of rotting flesh, day-old bile, staphylococcal infection, and sulphurous, rotting eggs. There are human emissions that are relatively benign, reasonably healthy -- not that you'd be forgiven for blasting one out in my car or other confined space -- and then there are the kind that are harbingers that the dealer is absolutely rotting from the inside out, sick, noisome, toxic. This latter form was what now nauseated an entire elevatorful of people.
Now, of course, we had no direct evidence that the poor, sick woman who'd preceded us had laid this particular stinkbomb. But Lordy -- she'd sure acted suspicious. I happened to catch the eye of a fellow victim, and his amused smirk, flared nostrils and mimed choke told everything that needed to be communicated. A small child couldn't suppress a giggle. Some people!
Gratefully arriving at my floor, I hustled off the elevator, once again breathing the relatively benign, antiseptic hospital air, and went about my medical business.
Later, consultation complete, I once again made for the elevator. When it arrived, it was empty -- and the same awful stench assailed me as I boarded! The doors closed behind me, trapping me in a developing social horrorshow. Only then, through my watering eyes, did I spy the small, desktop-published sign that I had missed on my upward trip:
PLEASE FORGIVE ANY UNPLEASANT ODORSWell. Isn't this a fine mess.
WE ARE WORKING ON THE SEWERS IN THE BASEMENT
WE HOPE TO BE FINISHED SOON!
At this point the only prayer I had of delivery from mortification was to hope against hope that no one was waiting for the elevator on the ground floor. But no. Of course not. A knot of six waited as the doors slid open, expectantly waiting for me to debark. I did so, as quickly as my sore leg allowed, and then started to hustle away from the scene of my humiliation. I heard a woman's voice float out through the closing doors, "Oh my God!" I had an impulse to turn and shout, "Look at the sign! Look at the sign!" but thought better of it.
They'll learn on their way down.
It's just now occurred to me that that scene must have played out hundreds of times in that lobby that day. A more perfect illustration of the principle of karma you couldn't hope for.