Oh, the people you meet when riding the elevator all evening

19 Sep, 2013

by Molly Snyder

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Sometimes I like to play a little game in my life called “Crazy Person.” A couple of months ago I played this game and interviewed the Pfister lion. Then I played a round last Friday night and rode the hotel elevators for a couple of hours, asking anyone who got on or off where they were from and what brought them to the Pfister.

To slightly lessen the weirdness, I brought my Narrator sign with me so people knew I really was employed by the Pfister and not just a nosy whack job. I also took my partner, Royal. He contributes all of the photos for my blog and is totally not a Crazy Person – just a really good sport.

So here’s how it all went down: anytime a person or people got on the elevator, I asked them what floor they were going to, then pressed the button or swiped their room key and told them what I was up to.

“Hi, my name is Molly and I am the Pfister writer-in-residence (pointing to sign) and I write a blog for the hotel. Tonight I am riding the elevator just for fun and asking people where they are from and why they are at the Pfister.”

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Maybe it’s because they were trapped with me in a small space for at least a few floors, but everyone talked to me. Everyone.

People definitely reacted differently, though. Some laughed. Some looked at me rather perplexed. One woman apologized (I don’t know why) and another clapped her hands and said, “Oh, this is fantastic!”

More than anything, it was a fascinating study of humans on elevators. It’s already kind of an uncomfortable experience being in a confined space with strangers, much less directly addressed and asked personal questions.

Depending on what floor they were going to, the amount of time we had on the elevator together varied. This added to the challenge of it.

Sometimes I only had a couple of floors to blurt out my spiel and get information from the guest. Sometimes there was enough time to really engage, for instance, if the ride was from the 23rd floor all the way down to the lobby. (I was glad to have a few extra floors of chat time when three women and I realized we all graduated from the same high school, 34 years apart.)

I found this experience to be therapeutic for my slightly claustrophobic self and I enjoyed it so much that I plan to ride the ‘vators at least one more time during my tenure – which was recently extended from November 1, 2013 to May 1, 2014. Next time, Artist in Residence Stephanie Barenz is going on a “ride along” with us.

I recorded all of the mini conversations on my iPhone and here they are transcribed. Going up!

Renee (from Pontiac, Michigan): “Blake Shelton concert! Can’t you tell by our boots?”

Richard (from Toronto): “This is good. You have me while I’m sober. Any other ride that would not be the case. I’m here for my cousin’s 50th birthday party.”

Jim (from St. Louis): “My wife, Mary Kay, and I were just on Mackinac Island and this is the halfway point home. It was wonderful there. If you ever get to go, do it. You really step back in time. There aren’t any vehicles allowed on the island. And now we’re here because we figured there are worse places to stop off.”

Brad (from Milwaukee): “I work at Blu. So I’m going to work.”

Jan (From Milwaukee): “I’m taking my friend to Blu. She’s from Kansas. This is my place to take out-of-town guests. Especially when the sun is setting.”

Ray (from Virginia): “We’re going to the Packers game tomorrow. Going to see the Brewers tonight. Hope you’re not still here at 1 a.m. It might not be pretty.”

Bob (from Connecticut): “I’m here for Al’s Run. It’s my 21st race.”

Kim (from Milwaukee): “I work at Marquette. I’m here for the auction.”

Matthew (from Milwaukee): “Wait, what are you doing again? You’re a writer? I have a whole book for you. You need to write about me. How much time do you have? I swear to God, I will come back and find you.”

Mike (from Chicago): “Taking friends from Louisville to Blu. Best view of Milwaukee. We love this place.”

Alexis and Sarah (from Oshkosh and Appleton): “We’re here for a music therapy workshop at the Conservatory of Music.”

Bob (from Milwaukee): “Having dinner at Mason Street Grill after a long day of Board of Directors’ meetings.”

Stephanie (from Colombus): “Here for the Reds game.” (Points to shirt.)

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Anne Marie and Fred (from Madison): “We’re celebrating our anniversary. 10 years. We’re our way to Milwaukee Chop House. We guessed online – hope it’s good.”

Heather and Adam (from Milwaukee): “We’re getting married here, November 10th, on the 7th floor. And then we’re having our reception at Blu.”

Wendy (from Milwaukee): “We’re going to Blake Shelton tonight at the Bradley Center. Two years ago we decided to come here as a Christmas present. It took us this long to book it. But here we are!”

Jill (from Chicago): “Why are we here? Why not? OK, we’re seeing Kathy Griffin.”

Geralyn and Greg (from Illinois): “We’re here for our 28th anniversary.”

Emily (from Chicago): “We’re staying at the InterContinental and they said we could come here to swim.”

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Sherri (from Racine): “Oh, I saw you on the website. Did you write a book?”

Tish (from Minneapolis): “My cousin, Sylvia, is from Cornwell, England, and I brought her here eight years ago. So I brought her here to do it again.”

Dave (from Ohio): “Redskins game. Sorry.”

Edna (from Ontario): “We saw a writeup on the art museum in our Ontario newspaper and we said, ‘We have to go to Milwaukee!’ So we drove here. We’re retired. We love historic hotels. We love taking trips. Enjoy your trip in the elevator.”

 

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  • http://www.mattgergeni.com MattGergeni

    Love this post…and your “snapchat” approach to interviewing these guests. As an avid “people watcher” I have to admit that I enjoy “seeing” what has really brought these folks into the world of the Pfister!

  • http://Website Nancy Leonard

    I love the Pfister…been staying here ever since my daughter’s freshman year at Marquette. This school year I’ll be here at least five times. It’s really my home away from home…sorry for the cliche! I’ve met all the artists in residence, except for the first one, and have visited two of them in their work space in Milwaukee.

    Have not yet met any of the oral history/blog writers, though not for lack of trying. I keep asking, where is she? I just keep missing you! I’m not much for elevators. I prefer to stay in the original building and always walk up and down the stairs. Sometimes you’ll find me in the gym at midnight after day of indulgent eating and drinking…this IS Milwaukee! (Although anymore I’m a light weight…2 beers is my limit. I love the bar downstairs, much better people watching down there! I’m not sure I have a write worthy story to tell….I am a MU basketball fanatic and although we live in southern CA, we have season tickets. All I wear to work-out in is Marquette gear…including my socks! Maybe you can spin a tale around that piece of information!!

    Coming back to the Pfister on Sept. 4….maybe I should start riding the elevator!

About the author

Molly Snyder

Molly Snyder has lived in Milwaukee her entire life. She started keeping a diary when she was four and published her first poem at age 10 called “The Unicorn” in the now-defunct Shorewood Herald. Today, she writes less about mythical creatures and more about Milwaukee people and places. She is a senior writer at OnMilwaukee.com, where she has worked for the last 12 years. Telling people’s stories is her passion.

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