Thursday, November 16, 2017
I didn't notice it until the mid afternoon. They had done some work on our staff elevator at the library. There were new clocks. There was a clock above the elevator on the outside, and there was a big new clock inside the elevator. I wheeled in my cart of fiction to shelve and went to press the button for the second floor. But they had changed that too. Instead of floor numbers there was a digital display where all one could do is enter a time of day. When one entered a time of day a big green button next to the display lit up. On a hunch I entered a time an hour in the future, that is, three o'clock, and then I pressed the green button.
The elevator went up a floor. All the books on my cart disappeared and the door opened. Even though it had just been two o'clock, the clock outside the elevator now said 3:00. My watch said 3:00. I got back in the elevator and went back to 2:00. My cart filled. I memorized a few specific books on my cart and went up to 3:00 again. I went out of the elevator into the stacks and found my remembered books duly and properly shelved, presumably by me!
I went back to the elevator and set the clock for one in the morning. The elevator opened on a dark and empty library.
"Hmm." I said quietly to myself.
I got into the elevator and immediately set the clock for 9:00 in the evening, the time I leave.
I love going home. That's where my wife lives!
But then I remembered something I wrote many years ago. It was about being careful about wishing my life away, even the little bit more irritating parts, like being at work. Though I was keen to go home I made myself do a quick calculation: If I came to work every day and got in the elevator to advance time until the end of the day I would be effectively erasing as much as 20% of my life!
So I got back in the elevator and went to the start of my dinner break. I had good bread, a nice Camembert, some smoked salmon, arugula, and a marmalade shortbread cookie. I read a book. Then I did the exact same thing three more times, growing hungry again each time I traveled an hour back in the elevator, but not forgetting what I read. I shelved for a little while, writing as I went. I worked a steady hour at the front desk.
And then I went home.