November 26, 2012

Elevator Talk

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5 p.m. on a Friday finds me crammed in an elevator with two bickering engineers, my back against two taped-together stools splattered in oil paint, a heap of colorful wires at my feet. Two wires, red and yellow with small metal light sensors at the ends, run in diagonals across a square cork board smeared with dried paint drippings and hastily carved initials. The board is taped to the stools, themselves supporting a 15-inch Macbook Pro on its last legs of battery life. Its monitor is cluttered with code and two tiny circles that shudder and shrink as we re-tape the motion sensors for the fifth time. Across the elevator, two red lasers the size of pencil erasers are hot glued to a Reese’s cereal box spray painted metallic silver. You can still see hints of orange poking through. From time to time, the black electric tape holding the box on the right of the elevator door curls up, and the whole contraption — a mess of wires and half-dead batteries — goes tumbling to the floor. A small child darts in and out of the elevator at semi-regular intervals, nearly knocking the lasers down and sending us all into a fresh panic while one of the bickering engineers, running on three hours of sleep and some cheese and crackers, codes frantically, the click of her keyboard a steady backdrop to the occasional expletive.

Original Author: Emily Greenberg