With the beep of his alarm, Stanley’s morning routine started. Out of bed and into the bathroom, he shaved and showered and brushed his teeth all at the same time, tousled his dirty blonde hair, and looked at the mirror seeing his clear face with spotted freckles. He buttoned his fantastical white dress shirt, crudely tied his tie, slipped into worn khaki pants and dolphin socks with sandals, adjusted his silver-framed glasses, and was out the front door without breakfast, making haste to his 2002 snow white Honda civic. Putting his key in the ignition, Stanley was off, pulling out of his one-bedroom apartment complex, and onto the transcontinental highway, his drive taking forty-five to arrive at work.
The crisp air smelled of fresh air and recently cut grass. The sun shone brightly above, forcing Stanley to squint on the road, nearly turning into the wrong lane a few times. As Stanley left his Honda civic, he felt the heat radiate off his workplace’s front door and quickly retreated his fingers. He opted to open the door with his foot instead. He heard classical music permeate throughout the office buildings' entranceway.
Stanley waved at the receptionist behind the desk, a contented smile on his face as he motioned his way to the company elevator. He heard the pitter-patter of squeaking boots behind him. He quickly held the elevator doors open for the figure who rushed through the front door, not bothering to wave at reception, obviously late.
The now visible man who was late walked onto the elevator, alongside Stanley who moved to the opposite corner of the elevator. The two looked over one another before Stanley spoke, his voice soft and melodic.
‘’Are you going to the top floor too?’’, said Stanley.
The other man’s attire had been appalling to Stanley, who in comparison, dressed to the nines. The stranger wore pajama pants striped with red, an AC/DC shirt, and converse sneakers that were torn and ripped. He smelled rancid and looked as if he had not shaved in a few days. His hair was jettison black, his face was angular and unappealing, and his eyes were piercing and intolerable to Stanley, who felt visibly discomforted by the others presence.
‘’I appreciate your candor in holding the door open like a respectable human being, but I hadn’t asked for idle chit chat with my morning coffee,’’ said the complete stranger in a voice that sounded like cheaply smoked cigarettes and smashed glass stuck in someone’s throat.
‘’With that said, I’m going down,’’ he continued.
Despite the snark of the secondary passenger, Stanley continued speaking, a content smile on his face as his nostrils seemed to flare whenever the man spoke. Stanley’s naivete made for often, unpleasant interactions with those who worked downstairs.
‘’So which floor do you work on?’’ Stanley asked cautiously.
The other made an audible sigh and spoke in short sentences. He would have preferred the elevator music.
‘’I’ve been situated on the lowest floor since the beginning actually,’’ said the stranger.
‘’I wasn’t aware lower management allowed their workers to wear that sort of attire,’’ spoke Stanley in his attempts to make idle conversation and learn more about the downstairs workers.
‘’You could always keep your opinions to yourself, who knows. Maybe today is casual Friday.’’ The stranger snapped back at Stanley, his voice harsh and judgmental.
Stanley regretted holding the elevator door open.
‘’Why the suit and tie? You look like a Mormon, ’continued the total stranger in the spacious elevator.
‘’I work in upper management which doesn’t allow for such pleasantries as casual Friday’s. It’s all prim and proper – suits and ties. The works’’ said, Stanley.
‘’It seems dreadful working up there. Your life must be uninspired and dull,’’ said the stranger.
‘’It has its ups and downs, much like this elevator,’’ said Stanley.
The elevator seemed to move upwards at a snail’s pace.
‘’Working up there is a dream come true. I’ve never been happier,’’ Stanley said, continuing.
‘’It seems like they embrace mediocrity up there,’’ said the stranger.
‘’The rules are strict, but they’re not mediocre.’’
‘’Do they at least let you play music on your break?”
Stanley pulled out an iPod shuffle from his dress shirts breast pocket.
‘’We’ve got Beethoven, Chopin, Bach. Barbara Streisand. Sometimes if you tune the radio just right, you can hear the bells ringing above.’’
‘’It’s worse than I thought. You’re listening to that old age garbage. We’ve got the real music down there, let me tell you.’’
‘’Oh yeah? And what kind of music are you permitted to listening to?’’ Stanley asked.
The man whose name was unknown pulled out a Blackberry. ‘’ I’ve got Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger, and Pink Floyd along with Iron Maiden.”
‘’It seems like you have more variety than we do.’’
‘’We used to. They’re implementing censors. The FCC is shutting down our music, so it is more thematic for the workplace.’’
‘’The federal communications commission?’’ Stanley said.
‘’I wish. The factual Christ communion.’’
The elevator went silent, rising further inevitably reaching floor number seven.
‘’You know, in a way, your kind is responsible for ruining music – the one thing we must look forward to. With your lack of personality, your bland attire, and your clerical work,’’ said the unnamed man.
Stanley now looked downright offended, to be addressed with vitriol had diminished his morning routine.
‘And what’s your name so I can hope to avoid you for next eternity when I have to take the ride back down to go home?’’
‘’My names Rī̷͔̒ck.''
‘’It’s been unpleasant meeting you today Rick,’’ said Stanley.
‘‘I wish you a good journey down your six hundred sixty-six floors,’’ he continued.
Both men went their separate ways. The two decided to make the conscious decision to take the stairs next eternity, not knowing they had thought of the same idea and would meet yet again in the next century.