The Lady in the Elevator

Written By: Kathleen Caulson

I was working in Manhattan at one of my first jobs as an adult. At 20, I thought I had the world at my fingertips, and everything was going great even though I had just broken up with my boyfriend at the time. As it turns out, I was still very good friends with his sister. She called me up and asked if I wanted to go out to the Hamptons for the weekend with her girlfriends. They knew some people who had a house rental in a place called Quogue. I never heard of it! They were going to drive out after work on Friday.

I thought to myself, “Well this will be fun, at least I won’t be sitting home feeling sorry for myself.”

I had never been to the Hamptons before. My family always went out to the North Fork, to Jamesport, for our summer vacations. My parents had even purchased a house on Locket Drive. We had the beautiful Peconic Bay right down the road. Going out to the south shore, to the Hamptons, was new to me. But I was looking forward to the adventure.

I must’ve been so excited to be going out east, that I wasn’t paying attention. As the workday ended, at the Grace Building, where I worked, I ran out of the elevator so fast. I came crashing into a man holding a stack of papers. As the papers went flying into the air and landed around our feet, I turned around and looked at him.

I managed a very quick, “I’m so sorry, but I’m in such a rush ~ please forgive me!”

And I was out the door, not even looking back. Not even helping him pick up the mess!

I made my way to Penn Station and jumped on the LIRR. I was picked up by my girlfriend Beth and her two other friends that she worked with. We had a long drive with tons of traffic. If I recall, we made our way from the LIE to Sunrise Hwy. I was not at all familiar with the south shore roads.

The radio was playing some hit tunes from the 80s and we were singing along when all of a sudden, we hit a bump or something, and we realized that the tire had blown out. Omg!! Not a flat tire!! Yes! A flat tire!! On a Friday night! Definitely not a Friyay!!!

We pulled over to the side of the road, and as I mentioned, this was in the early 80’s before cellphones!! Imagine, four 20 year old girls stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire! You just know someone is going to stop and help us. Right? Well, someone did. I love that!

It was close to 9:00 pm by the time we arrived at the house in Quogue. I remember looking at the house and thinking it looked like a ski house. A chalet, not at all like a summer house I imagined. But it was big. And there was a huge deck wrapped around it.

It was weird. I distinctly remember getting out of the car and feeling like somebody was watching us. Watching me! I looked up and turned around. There on the balcony overlooking the driveway was a man smiling. I could see his beautiful white teeth. They almost seem to glow.

I looked up at him and just smiled. He looked at me and smiled back, his white teeth shining, and said simply, “You’re the lady in the elevator!”

And that, I was!

It was the man that I bumped into earlier that day. The man that I left picking up his stack of papers as I rushed by, as it turns out, to stand in this exact spot. The irony!!

What was the likelihood that he would be in the same house that I was rushing to? What are the odds? I’ve thought about that over the years. Over 30 years ago. It makes me laugh. I love the way life plays little games with us sometimes.

His name turned out to be Jon, just like my ex. boyfriend. Only he was about 12 years older than me. He was very nice and the whole weekend we hung out together. Talking. Laughing. Smiling. Even kissing.

We went out to some clubs, I can’t remember the names of them, but we also went to Tiana Beach. We had a great time with our new friends from the house. The drink of choice was gin and tonic, and to say that we had too much was an understatement. I remember Beth getting up from her beach chair and wanting to go swimming.

The former lifeguard in me came out and I said, “There’s no way you going swimming after drinking gin and tonic’s all afternoon!”

But she wanted to go. I watched as she got up and fell flat on her face in the sand. Jon help me get her back home to the beach house and put her to bed. I think we really bonded after that.

The weekend went much too fast and before we knew it we were heading back to our homes in Nassau County. Jon offered to drive me back home, since he was heading backwards to the city, but I felt I should stay with my friends. I member thinking what a great surprise it was to meet somebody that I really liked, and that he just so happened to work in the same office building.

That Monday I get into work and all of a sudden the receptionist calls me to come meet her at the front desk. Something had arrived for me. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. I never received deliveries at work. So I go to the front desk and to my surprise, there’s a dozen red roses with a simple note.

“To: The Lady in the Elevator!
Love: Jon

So you might want to know whatever happened. Well, we had a summer romance. He lived in the city on 34th St. and Third Avenue. We’d meet for dinner and I’d hang out with him on some weekends. It was a fun summer. It was my first real romantic adult love. But by September he had received news that he was taking a job out in California. He wanted to know if I wanted to come out to California with him. I will always smile at the thought that he asked me, but I was too young to make that jump. That leap across the country. I turned him down. Gently.

I live out in the Hampton Bays with my fiancé. And we also live in Floral Park. Now he’s the love of my life. But that’s another story. It’s funny how love works. How we experience different people. How it helps form us. Makes us. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Life’s ironies. They make me smile.