I was standing at the elevator on the 7th floor. I pushed the Down button. A voice asked, "Where to?" and I said, "Fourth floor."
"You can't get there from here." It was a nice voice, very patient.
I stared at the papers in my hand, a stack of requests from offenders who wanted to see a chaplain. The jail is a tower twelve stories high.
And you know elevators. They run up and down. I was on the seventh floor and needed to go to the fourth.
Oh. Wait a minute. The fourth floor with inmates was not in this tower. That fourth floor is in the West Wing. I had to go from the seventh floor to the third floor and transfer to another elevator.
And are there only two sets of elevators? No. That would be too easy.
On this particular day, I did manage to make it to the third floor and make the transfer. I got to where I needed to be.
But that isn't always the case.
I've ended up in the parking garage.
One day, I hit the button for the second floor, thinking I was headed back to my office. Instead, I found myself in a small hallway with four or five holding cells. I headed into the office where half a dozen officers were chatting.
"I'm a new chaplain," I announced. "I'm lost. What do you do in here?"
They had the grace to laugh.
Turned out those holding cells were for offenders waiting to go to court, and, handily enough, there were two courtrooms at the other end of this small hallway. The officers were waiting for the next round of sessions.
I knew those courtrooms. I'd never been in them, but from the hall near my office, I can see the signs for those courtrooms. I often see defense attorneys waiting out in the hall before their cases are called.
I asked the officers, "I don't suppose I could cut through the courtroom and go back to my office." No, they assured me. I couldn't do that.
I was so close.
I said my goodbyes and went back to the elevator. I told the Elevator Operator (who exists somewhere in the building, with cameras!) I wanted the third floor. Transferred to another elevator and went downstairs and back to my office.
Do you remember the early video game "Zork"? Every now and then, there were messages that said, "You are in a twisty windy passage." Must have been written by someone who had to deal with multiple elevators.
And for those of you wondering why I don't just haul up and down the stairs: in 2007, I broke the arch bone in my left foot. Six weeks in a boot. Last summer, I tripped over my own feet in my living room. Broke every toe in my right foot, except the big one. Six weeks in a boot. The feet never fully recovered. I don't do stairs. Or hills, which explains why I'm taking great delight in figuring out how to out-maneuver the hills in Seattle. Escalators!