Sunday, August 7, 2011

I rode a shabes elevator

Never Done: I rode a shabes elevator

(Only it was called a shabbat elevator.) I had gone to drop Pam's bike off at the triathlon transition area, which involved a few miles of riding, including a test ride up the very steep bike start (which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be -- at least not without 3000 other athletes) ... and all that was after a massage. So I was a little sticky. Luckily, I work 3 blocks from the bike transition area, and there are showers where I work, so I dashed up to the JCC for a shower before going on with the rest of my day.

I've been there before on a Saturday, but never thought to take the shabes elevator. The shabes elevator, for secular Jews and gentiles out there, is an elevator that is pre-programmed to stop on every floor, so if you are observant, you don't have to push a button to call it. Basically it's a workaround to help observant Jews get around Jewish law pertaining to the sabbath. What the hell, I thought. I should take it. Never done.

It turns out that the shabes elevator takes a lot of patience. You are standing right next to three other elevators that you could call and they would arrive much more quickly, but you wait. And wait. And when it finally comes, it goes down to the basement before going back up again, stopping again on every floor. Just like the sabbath, when we're supposed to slow down, the elevator slows us down too. For a secular Jew, this seems to be about choice. I am sure that for some observant Jews, this is less so, and more just the way things are.

I thought about that while I showered, and then took the "normal" elevator back down -- thinking I had closed this experience out for the day. However, I went to visit a friend later at Beth Israel hospital, and guess what I saw:

It makes sense that at a hospital they would run express in one direction -- hospital people have more reason to rush than JCC people. Even on the sabbath.

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