I wipe my feet on the rug inside the front door of the hospital. I need to go to the 4th floor to see my doctor for a check up. I press the “up” button for the elevator. I wonder how many fingers have touched this one button. “Ding.” The elevator has arrived. I seem to be the only participant for this ride. I walk into the moving square room. I move to press for floor number four. Much to my surprise and confusion, their is no floor number four. The buttons read “floor #3” and “floor #5.” I know my appointment is for floor number four, or is it five? I press five.
It’s a nice, smooth ride to my destination. “Ding.” The doors open. A thought immediately comes to my head. This is not my destination. From what I remember, my floor is a hallway, this is a waiting room. It must be the six floor. I step back into the elevator. This time a little embarressed and also this time, with another fellow stranger. They ask, “what floor.” I say, “six.” It’s got to be six. If it’s not four and it’s not five, it’s six. The door closes. The stranger and I ride pleasantly up one floor from the one we were just on, not saying a word to one another, because if there is one rule about strangers in elevators, it is that you must pretend that no one else exists but you.
The door opens. It’s another waiting room. This time I must step out onto the floor or I will look funny to my friend the stranger. “Have a nice day,” I say, when really I could care less, all I am thinking is that I am full lost.
Four, it was floor number four, I know it was. I’ve been there before. I got it. I’m going to trick the hospital building and take the stairs. Brilliant! I walk down the hall, past the vending machine room, to the door with the “Exit” sign above it. On the door it reads, “Emergency Exit.” I hope this door doesn’t alarm when I push it. I think it would say, “Emergency Exit Only.” I start to push. Then I stop. But wait, this hospital forgot to put a fourth floor button in the elevator, don’t you think they could just as easily forgot to write the rest of the emergency exit sentence. I’ll take my chances. I push the door open. The alarm does not sound.
relief fills my insides as I say goodbye to the sixth floor and lightly jog down the stairs. the echo of my feet stalk me. I move down one set of stairs, then down another. I see floor number 5. The waiting room. just one more until my floor. I move down another set of stairs, and then another. Finally I see my door. I open it. Walk through the door and what do I find but another waiting room. For a second I wonder if I am in the right building. Then I look at the sign next to the elevators. “Floor #3.” Almost in a twilight zone fashion it hits me. This building does not have a fourth floor.
I take the elevator to the ground level. I find the directory. My appointment is on the tenth level. I take the elevator up to my right destination. And finally arrive at the right office, but as I sit there, I wonder quietly to myself, why would a hospital not have a fourth floor.