Thursday, 30 June 2011

The elevator…

When I was studying, I lived for four years in the same flat, first with my brother and then with a friend. It was located in the city centre, a walking distance from the university. The flat was in an old building; probably built around the 50s and it was on the 7th floor. You entered the flat in a small hallway turning left to the kitchen and bathroom and right to two bedrooms via the living room.

Since the flat was old, the arrangement of the rooms wasn’t great. In the corner of the living room there was a huge pillar. It stood 45 cm from one wall and around 1.20 cm from the other. That created a dead space in the corner of the room which was very difficult to use. Unfortunately, it was too big to use for pole dancing. Also, the floors creaked tremendously and we were always aware in which room the people living above us were. OK, the state of the flat wasn’t the best but we were young and the place was cheap. Also, since it was in the city centre it was a meeting point of friends and colleagues. We frequently had people just popping in for a coffee and for a quick chat which I loved.

What was amazing in that flat was the size of the balcony. It was bigger than the living room and we frequently just sat there enjoying the sun having frappe coffee and playing backgammon according to Greek student traditions. What was memorable about that flat was its elevator. Everybody commented on that. It was amazingly tiny and very slow! It could hardly fit three slim people in it and took ages to climb from the ground to the 7th floor. Especially on warm summer days it was a slow torture…

On the first four floors there were doctor practices. And not just any practices, they were psychiatrists, psychologists and neurosurgeons occupying them. Sometimes I had to share the very tiny elevator with lets say slightly odd looking people visiting these practices. I can’t forget a very warm August summer day. It must have been around 38 degrees outside and boiling hot. Before I pressed the number 7 in the elevator another man entered. He was in his early forties and rather big. I wasn’t tiny either during these years and the elevator after doing some weird noises started its slow painful climb.

Before we reached the first floor my co-passenger commented on the very warm weather and how it affects him. Before reaching the second floor he told me he is schizophrenic and the hot weather is worsening his condition. By the third floor we were both badly sweating when he told me that every 6 months or so he has to pass a psychiatric evaluation from appointed doctors about whether he should be admitted to a hospital or stay free. He got off on the 4th floor. At first I felt a bit threatened by him and uneasy. I feared that he might snap in that tiny hot space. When we did arrive on his floor and he started getting off, I did feel sorry for him and I wished him all the luck which he accepted smiling. Of course I never knew what happened…

In that same elevator a year later we found a notice by the Police attached on the mirror. It was regarding the flat on the 5th floor. They had already arrested the ‘Lady’ of the flat and they were looking for some other women ‘working’ in the place who managed to escape! They were listed by the Police as sex workers! A day later a very handsome Policeman came to ask questions about it. I tried to be as helpful as I could but to be honest we had absolutely no idea about what was going on. Being students we had really weird schedules and we sometimes spent all-nighters trying to finish projects but we never took notice of anything illegal happening. It then occurred to us that maybe some of the weird looking people we saw getting off the elevator weren’t visiting the doctors but the ladies of the 5th floor…

Henri de Toulouse lautrec (1894) Salon de la rue des moulins

Generally, I have a lot of stories to say regarding that flat. It was there that I enjoyed some of the best carefree years of my life and I also found what love is with another man…


  1. Hi

    A quick reminder to say that the next '5 on the fifth' is a few days away.

    This months sees the 25th month of this little photo challenge.

    Hope you can take part.


  2. Sounds like Melrose Place.....lots of stories to tell - you should blog on a few of them! And tell us about the one re: love with another man - we are wanting to know!

  3. @Stephen_Chapman Thanks for that. Although I have no idea what to do with this month's theme but I'll try!

    @SteveA I will in due time... :-)

  4. i love this post! every day stories like these are great. it must have been hell being stuck in the elevator with the big guy in that heat!

    i really miss those uni.days too

  5. @Luuworld The only I regret is being too closeted but I had the time of my life during uni. I still have lots of friends from that time and many memories...

  6. That guy sure did talk a lot in that short elevator ride! I kept waiting for the punchline that never came.

  7. @Cubby Are you saying my story's boring because there was no punch line? :-p