Chapped Thighs

Thursday was laundry day and, as usual, I’d left it to the last minute.

In swimming shorts and a pair of knitted slippers, I rolled up the sleeves of my formal dress shirt and set to it.

A sou’wester hat would have completed the look, I know, but I don’t have one because I don’t live in an episode of Murder She Wrote. Yet.

We live on the fourteenth floor of a tall apartment building and the communal laundry room is in the basement. I generally enjoy doing laundry (the coins! the bounce sheets! the lint guard!) but all that up-and-down in the elevators is a bit of a bind.

You have to use the elevator six times when you do laundry. Six. You go down once to load the washing machine; a second time to switch the load into the drier; and a third time to collect the finished load.

You have further seventh and eighth trips to make if the bastarding dryer hasn’t done its job properly or if you’ve forgotten to bring your detergent like some sort of forgetful crane operator.

I can’t help but think all this would be easier (and more fun!) if the building only had a fireman’s pole.

Would that be too much trouble? Would it be too much to ask for? Would it be too extravagant in the current political climate?

Now, I’m not suggesting that a single fireman’s pole take us all the way down from the fourteenth floor to the basement. Even if you survived the plummet, think of the chapped thighs.

Especially on laundry day when you’re wearing swimming shorts. Yowza.

But you could have a staggered system of multiple fireman’s poles (firemen’s poles?), allowing you to descend two floors at a time.

Laundry is not the only reason we have to go downstairs, of course, and I can’t help thinking of the potentially horrific pile-ups that would certainly happen in a Towering Inferno-style evacuation scenario. Neighbours’ shoes upon neighbours’ shoulders, a teetering tower of impatient urbanites, fourteen storeys high.

Oh, the ironic indignity of being injured on a fireman’s pole during a fire.

But, madam, you’re overlooking an added benefit of the fireman’s pole system: the super-duper mood you’d be in after each slide.

This would translate to a social benefit when the purpose of your descent is to confront a UPS man who wants to charge you an unexpected customs tax, or if you’ve been pulled away from your lounge party to open the door for your stupid mate who can’t figure out the intercom.

And you know full well it would be life-affirming to begin your daily commute with the words “Geronimo!” or “Wheeeeeeeee!”

A word on attire. Additional fireman garb — helmets, galoshes, galoshes, helmets — would be forbidden when “riding the poles” (as it will become known). Like wearing a band tee-shirt to a show fronted by the same band, it’s just too much. You may still dress like a fireman on the street and when you’re at home, but never on the poles. You should also refrain from dressing as a Ghostbuster or a 1960’s television-era Batman, though all other eras of Batman (Batmen?) are fine.

Fast and fun, the fireman’s pole was originally invented by peppy Chicagoans to speed up firemen’s response time. But why limit this technique to emergencies? If we make the fireman’s pole a fairly standard way of getting about, it’ll put pressure on the emergency services to come up with even more efficient ways of averting crises. It’ll become an ongoing tug-o-war between the emergency services and regular society. Before we know it, we’ll all be zipping around the planet in lubricated tubes.

Naturally, the fireman’s pole is a one-way street. You couldn’t scale the pole to get back up to your apartment. For that, some kind of “lift” would be in order.

Oh, alright Hitler, we’ll just leave things as they are. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But if you ask me, the elevator-centric society we live in today is just another form of FASCISM.

If you enjoyed this story, (a) shame on you, and (b) please consider buying my books A Loose Egg and Stern Plastic Owl for countless other flights of fancy.

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