When the elevator broke, everyone in my apartment building was taken by surprise.
It's a modern building in the Castro and the elevator worked fine, zipping up and down 24/7, transporting residents, pizza deliveries, my neighbor's leather-clad visitors and various dogs. But there it was -- stuck -- with an out-of-order sign. The parts would take weeks to arrive.
Since never leaving the house again wasn't an option, I rediscovered the unused back staircase.
And, schlepping up and down, I realized I had never noticed how often I rode that elevator. Down the staircase to go to work. Up the staircase coming home. Down to go the market. Up carrying grocery bags. Down to get the mail. Up again. Down again.
"Exhausting," I complained to a neighbor, as we both paused on the landing, staring down the stairs. She thought so, too, so we bounded down the staircase to grab a latte. We sat laughing together. Gosh, I thought, I've lived here 15 years and never once had coffee with a neighbor.