Last week, I spent a few days in New York City, watching many months of work come to fruition. As a project manager in the pharmaceutical industry, my colleagues and I had been planning a bioethics-themed symposium for ages. Finally, the event had arrived.
The symposium took place on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center. The views were spectacular.
Things were going well on our first day, but I was anxious. There was a “networking lunch” at noon. Trying to pretend I knew anything about
anything compassionate use of medicines for an hour and a half, among some of the country’s foremost ethicists, seemed daunting.
For the first few minutes during lunch, I checked my email in the hallway, doing my best to look busy and important. When I glanced up, I noticed an exit sign.
“I could do a little exploring,” I thought. “Stretch my legs.”
There wasn’t any indication that this was an emergency only exit, so off I scampered into the obviously post-9/11 constructed stairwell. The stairs were wide and well marked with fluorescent tape.
As I descended, I noticed each floor bore signs that read, “Nearest re-entry on floor 36.”
The floors in between had only locked doors, not even a pad to swipe your badge – if you had a badge.
The 36th floor did have a pad, but I decided onward and downward was the way to go. Also I had no badge. No doubt some floor would have public access, and if not, I could piggyback off of one of the people I was bound to see.
And I did see someone. Around floor 20. By then, I was determined to see this thing through. Because surely -surely- I could exit on the ground floor.
The final floors were daunting. There were no doors at all, and large, brightly lit ticker tape signs announcing, “EXIT THIS WAY >>>>>>>>>.”
I finally made it to the ground floor, wobbly-kneed and decidedly damp, only to see this:
Knowing there was a red ‘call if you’re a moron’ phone back on the 11th floor, I turned around and began my long ascent.
When I reached the 4th floor, a tall, brunette man in a fleece jacket appeared.
“Can I help you?” he asked suspiciously.
He looked like Brody from Homeland.
“I’m trapped!” I blurted.
“Yeah. You’re supposed to be on the 40th floor.”
Which is when it hit me. Nicholas Brody had been watching me for forty. Floors.
“Come with me,” he said, leading me to the 5th floor. He looked like he knew 17 ways to kill someone with a rubber band.
Ma’am, you’re, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.
When he opened the 5th floor door and I saw it wasn’t an interrogation room, I breathed a sigh of relief.
He found someone to babysit me on the way to the proper elevator bank, and when I eventually made it back to the 40th floor, I ducked into a bathroom stall and desperately swabbed my head with toilet paper.
When I felt fairly certain I’d stopped sweating, I emerged from the stall and washed my hands. I looked up to see my entire forehead covered in toilet paper bits.
Guess it coulda been worse.
Have you ever gotten stuck in a compromising position?