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Ups and Downs
by Walt Giersbach

That Cafferty from Marketing on the 34th floor. What a character. Couple times a week I’d find myself with him in the elevator going down to the street for a smoke. Our building on Park Avenue has a lot of corporate big-time companies. Car will stop at every floor till we’re all like stuck together like a crayon box that's been left in the sun.

“Mike,” he’d shout when I got on at the 32nd floor. It was show time for Cafferty! “Listen to this, man. You should have heard my girlfriend Saturday. Big party over on Greenwich Avenue. Hundreds of whack jobs—you know, MBAs and lawyer geeks.”

About the 28th floor, the car would stop for more people and Cafferty’s voice would get more intense. “You haven’t met Anita, my girlfriend, but she’s kind of hyper. I was on the other side of the room and I hear her shout. Somebody dropped an ice cube down her, you know, this effing gown she’d just bought at Bloomies.”

Another stop—24th floor—and I see people start peeping out of the corner of their eyes. Cafferty ignores them as he’s spieling his story.

“Anita gives an unearthly howl like a cat that discovers it can’t fly off a rooftop. She turns on this guy with a Yale sweater. A Yale sweater on Greenwich Avenue. You ever hear of such a thing? Well,…”

Another stop. We’re at the 14th probably. I see someone running to catch the open door. A vice president from a brokerage firm madly pounds his finger on the Hold Button. Except it isn’t the Hold Button. He’s jamming the Close Doors button, then shrugs weakly at the guy like it’s God’s divine intervention.

“Anita screams, ‘You did that on purpose and I gotta return this dress tomorrow and get my money back. Anita’s always doing stuff like borrowing clothes from Bloomies, Saks, Barneys.”

“Cut to the chase, Mike,” I tell him. We’re at the 8th floor. The lobby is ten seconds away. The vice president now is staring openly at Cafferty, wetting his plants like the Dow has gone up 500 points. Some gray-haired pit bull secretaries are shooting mental death arrows at Cafferty.

“The most amazing thing,” he continues. “Anita confronts this Yalie, smashes her wine glass against the wall and pulls a pistol out of her handbag. ‘You’ll never do that again,’ she shouts, and then….”

We’re at the lobby. The doors open. Cafferty pushes to the front and shouts over his shoulder. “I’ll tell you later what happened.”

That Cafferty. What a character.

New York is full of characters and their tales. Ask me about the Amish guy and the elevator. The co-worker who was trapped overnight in an elevator with a Czechoslovakian cleaning woman. Or…but this is my floor and I have to get off.