There is this balding, red haired guy in a building that I frequent. He's short and has a potbelly, red, wind burned cheeks and bloodshot eyes. He's missing a few teeth and usually has a two-day beard and a wrinkled uniform.
He's the guard on duty in the morning, and likes to stand with his hands behind his back against the elevator button. As I rush in, I can't push it at will. I have to wait instead until he decides to summon the elevator for me.
If, as I enter the lobby, one of the doors is closing, my impulse is to rush to push the button and stop the elevator, but, (you guessed it) with his body as an obstacle, my reflex must be suppressed. I have to stand there while he lets the car in question go, waits a couple of beats and then invisibly, so that I can’t be sure if he's done it at all, calls the next one.
I know what you're thinking, and I've openly admitted that patience is not one of my strongest characteristics. But this has only a little bit to do with the wait. This man relishes the fact that he alone dictates the rhythm of the people who venture into his territory.
We all trot in, clueless, out of breath, holding our briefcases and gym bags, balancing coffee cups and Blackberries, phones and Bluetooth headsets, and as he stops us in our tracks I turn and catch in that sad, haggard face an oh-so-slight lilt in the corner of his mouth, the faintest hint of a smile.
Photo from www.industry.org.il