x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Turning lifts into uplifts

One way to improve the elevator experience: make every floor a surprise.

One of my favourite ever television shows was Police Squad, the short-lived series that introduced the world to the lunacy of Lieutenant Frank Drebin (beautifully played by the late, great Leslie Nielsen) and laid the silliness foundations for the Naked Gun films. Among many, many running gags was one involving lifts, which would regularly stop at rather interesting places you might not expect to find in a police station.

One time, as Drebin conversed with a colleague regarding a crime he'd no doubt solve via the most farcical means possible, a man in Speedos steps in, only to get out at the next floor and dive off a board into a swimming pool. Another time saw a woman in evening wear walk straight out on to a cabaret stage, complete with tossed roses from the audience. Naturally, Drebin and co were so engrossed in chat that they didn't notice.

Alas, as any regular high-rise dweller will tell you, traversing floors is almost never as interesting as that. And, alas, I am once again forced to put my recent lift-based grievances to paper. I'm genuinely sorry for bringing it up again, but another week of travelling to the 25th floor has taken its toll (and seen yet more precious hours spent staring at a screen with numbers on it).

Over the past week I've overheard some of the world's dreariest conversations within those confined four walls; I've seen a man enter the Guinness World Records for Most Lift Mirror Inspections of Most Desperate Combover Attempt, and I've stood for an entire 25-stop journey next to an individual with body odour that should have been kept sealed in an underground laboratory.

In any case, I could overlook all of this (yes, even the pong), were there occasional Police Squad-style interludes to break the monotony.What I want is for the doors to open every now and again to reveal a verdant jungle filled with exotic animals, a Nasa-style control room with blinking lights and hordes of computer screens, a TV game show studio, complete with spinning wheels, bikini-clad hostesses and cheesy host. And I want it to change regularly, both in terms of floor number and content, to keep everyone on their toes. Just knowing that the lift could, maybe, make such a stop would be enough to lift (excuse the pun) spirits. Sure it might cost a bit, but the increased moral and subsequent productivity should more than make up for the expense.

In the meantime, I've taken to bringing something to read in the lift. The one upside of this is that I now have ample time to meet my resolution-enforced quota of a book every week. Except when I'm travelling with ol' Mr Aroma, as it doesn't half sting my eyes.