The Elevator DJ
My office in Boston was conveniently located in the Leather District which is that area between Chinatown (sushi, pedicures) and South Station (transportation). It was walking distance to Rowe’s Wharf so sometimes we walked over to our favorite dive for lunch or for drinks after work. It was called the Barking Crab. It was a shack on a pier, enough piers away from the fabulous Rowe’s Wharf so as to be unfashionable but close enough for suits to wander over for a fun evening of, “slumming it”. But mainly it was non-suits, some boater-types, and regulars.
It was slightly crooked and it was like a tent with a wooden frame with half walls and plastic sheeting that enclosed it when they shut down for the night. You could sit at those high tables with high bar stools and look at the view with wind in your hair. The roof was a red and yellow striped heavy duty fabric and from the underside (which was the ceiling inside) hung old weathered lobster traps stuffed with bunches of tiny white holiday lights like the ones in my new header image. It was rustic.
The view from The Barking Crab was my favorite view of Boston. It looked at the backside of the Boston Harbor Hotel with the great arch through which you could see the raised highway of route 93. I guess you can’t see that now. I imagine the Big Dig must have gotten it underground and out of sight by now. For some reason I rarely go to Boston these days so I am not sure what that view is like. Ages ago a forward-thinking architect proposed putting the highway under the city and he was laughed out of town. Yet years later it seemed such a brilliant idea. You never hear about that original guy. The best ideas are often ridiculed. I had a great idea the other day that went undone. That’s how it goes when you have great ideas that need budget or approval from others.
From the seats along the outer rail of the BC you could look down on lots of boats tied up below. You could see people in their boats. Often people just went and sat on their boats and drank beer. We drank beer and watched them from above. For years there was a houseboat parked just under the shack. Rumor had it that the people that lived on it were renters. I would have lived on it. I am used to living in things so living on something would be a nice change. We could spy on them from our barstools.
One brilliant day we were in the elevator on our way back from lunch. I think I had my whole department with me which was like 5 people. We were returning from an “offsite”. Often our executives and their visiting counterparts would have meetings that were so important that they had to be held at area hotel conference rooms and which they importantly referred to as, “offsites”. So sometimes I’d take my department for an “offsite” which meant a nearby bar or the Barking Crab. At our “offsites” we didn’t talk business. We played expense account roulette and made fun of “offsites” and other silly executivisms couched in quotation marks.
So we were on the elevator and the phone rang. It was the elevator phone. It was ringing. It had never rung before. I’d never heard an elevator phone ring anywhere. So I pushed a button that said “answer” and said “hello?” and a speakerphone voice said, “Is this The Barking Crab?”. We said no, it’s an elevator and the voice said, “yeah right. seriously, can I make a reservation?”. The Barking Crab doesn’t take reservations. We smirked audibly. We went back and forth but the woman on the phone didn’t believe us. Right then we reached our floor and I had a flash of brilliance; “What number did you dial?”, I asked. I wrote the number on my hand and a new day dawned.
We all gathered around the desk and couch in my office because it had a view over the wall of the elevator. It also had a view of the helpful lighted arrows that told us when someone was in the elevator and which way they were going. Whenever someone got in the elevator we dialed the number and invariably they’d get curious and push the answer button for the speaker. Then we’d cleverly disguise our voices and say, “Hello. This is the elevator DJ. Please make a request.” If they refused to make a request we’d play Barry White on my computer and hold the phone to the speaker so they could hear it. If they did make a request we’d play Barry White. No matter what, we played Barry White, always that song where he speaks the first few lines in his oh-so seductive voice, “Sometimes it’s not enough, I just can’t get enough babe…” before launching into, “My darling I, can’t get enough of your love babe…”. But sometimes we’d play, “Loves Theme”.
This went on for days. It was totally hilarious. We could hear the passengers talking amongst themselves. They sounded annoyed yet they always answered the elevator phone. Then we added more songs. I forget what we played but I do remember that we chose songs for their annoying potential, like, Billy, Don’t be a Hero” and the like. And once I remember reading horoscopes to the passengers. Imagine an elevator that tells you your horoscope? I’m sure if we had a bible handy we’d have read passages.
When the bell would ring signifying that the elevator was stopping at our floor we would scatter and look intently, separately, innocently, busy. Then one day the big boss (of all bosses) got off the elevator and as he walked past our cluster of cubicles we distinctly heard him say something about childish behavior and getting to the bottom of it and calling building maintenance. And the next day when we called the number it was out of service. I don’t have that job anymore.
It’s really hard to find pictures of tectonic plates.