Elevator Conversations

I was taking my trash and recycling down in the elevator with a woman who lives in my building. She looked at my trash bag, which was erupting a half-eaten salad, and she gave a drawn-out sigh. Then she looked me in the eyes, looked back at the bag, and offered a louder sigh. Her mouth opened and closed, muttering "hut-hut" like a timid quarterback calling for the ball. She wanted to say something, but it kept getting caught in her throat. This was a woman with something on her mind. She worked up the courage to ask something, "Are you new here?" I wondered what she was getting at, but instead of offering a big smile and maintaining eye contact to invite the next question, I said "No" and continued to stare ahead. After another moment she yelled at me, "You're not supposed to put trash in the downstairs--we'll get rodents!" A great tip, and something I didn't know after three years in the building. It would have been an even better tip if I'd read it on a sign over the trashcan instead of heard it screamed at me in the elevator. It's all in the delivery.

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