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Deal 1007: Stubborn Swamp

Stubbornness has always run in my family. At every turn, we’ve always turned back and tried again. This has not always ended well, lots of effort has been sunk into goals doomed to fail. And yet, occasionally the persistence pays off.

I’ve wondered at times if there is a system to it, of if the universe is just random.

I know it isn’t rewarding the “pure of thought” or “pure of mind and body” because some of those who succeeded were clearly scoring low on those scales. I mean, “chicken racing”? Really?

And “frog jumping”? Again, really?

Especially when after setting up the contest, you rig it by feeding iron slugs to your opponent’s frog. Just to win a bar bet. And then when caught red handed, you parley that into an annual event?

Some kind of strange clumsy dumb luck is clearly at work, there. Failure leads to failure, as odd stepping stones through the swamp of failure to learn, failure to succeed in industry, and failure to buy property that isn’t nearly all swamp.

And yet, somehow, the stubbornness is admirable.

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Deal 999: Lifted

The dirty rat just stood there and stared. At first, we worried that we had bitten off more than we could chew, but as we circled him and stared, we began to envy his cool demeanor. He didn’t flinch. Nor did he seem easily distracted. Not that that prevented the lightest fingered among us from relieving him of his wallet, watch, and gun.

Gun. Now that was a surprise. Someone carrying a concealed handgun and seemingly unaware that a pack of feral kids might be willing to risk lifting it. Clearly it wasn’t serving the only role he was putting it to: protection. Clearly it deserved a more careful owner too. We are happy to provide that service. For a time, at least.

At some new point in time his hand-axe was going to get too hot to handle, and would need to be artfully transformed into a weapon with an entirely different serial number. For the gun, a rebirth of sorts. And for our gang, a chance at survival for another day.

At least.

We ought to be able to live on the take from lifting that gun for a few weeks.

And the tale will be worth a few beers after that.

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Deal 967:Escape is up

It’s heating up in this elevator now. I’ve lost track of time since the lights went out. I know it was stopped for a while before that. I’m slowly losing my cool. And now it’s heating up.

I used to hear alarms ringing in the distance.

I think the loudest stopped shortly after the lights.

Everything got quiet then.

At first it gave me time to contemplate my future. Assuming I escaped from this box trapped near an unknown floor, suspended over a drop of unknown depth, in a building that is clearly in trouble if not already the subject of a disaster film.

I began to envy my future self who was clever enough to escape this deathtrap.

If only that was me.

Or could be me. To have a future, I had to escape the trap.

I jealous of a future that may not exist, that could exist only if I can use that jealousy to inspire a solution.

Or wait patiently enough for rescue.

I have a protean bar and a bottle of water. Or had a bottle of water, a good bit of it is gone now. Huh. So is the protean bar. Future me has been raiding my supplies again.

I hope it makes him happy, because it is pissing me off!

Wait, why do I have to keep reminding myself that future me is just me?

Anything that benefits future me is helping me escape to live to be future me.

This would all get so much simpler if the power just came back on. But it seems likely it won’t.

It is hot in here now. Sauna hot, but without the slick Finnish amenities. Especially lacking the short run to an ice bath, which seems really attractive right now.

Let me kick a few more panels, even if it doesn’t help me escape, it will relieve some stress.

And what to we find behind door number three, Alex?

We have here a fire emergency kit. A smoke mask, and a fire axe. On other floors there might also have been a standpipe and possibly a length of hose, but I did mention this is an elevator, right? It’s hard enough to have reliable electric power in an elevator. No one is going to provide a water supply.

But an axe. That could come in handy. I’m pretty sure there’s a way out of this car through its roof. Once up there, perhaps there’s a slick with oil ladder just out of reach in a smoke filled shaft. Doesn’t matter, finding a way up and out is at least doing something and could be more likely to save future me than just sitting here waiting to die before rescue arrives.

I can’t reach the ceiling alone. I’m not carrying luggage, not even a messenger bag.

But I have an axe now. Perhaps I can use it to make some toe-holds.

The first few swings against the stainless steal panels full of buttons just bounce and make a lot of noise. I pause, hoping to hear something knocking back at me like in the movies. But alas, life is far less hopeful in reality.

But I can work on the panel that sprung open. Use it as a weak spot from which to reach higher.

Wedging the panel open with the axe does get be just close enough to the ceiling to raise a ceiling tile. From that humble beginning, perhaps I can reach further. Sure enough, I can knock the corner ceiling tile free from its grid, and get a look at the real ceiling of the car.

And now i can see a glimmer of hope. For one corner of what must be an escape hatch.

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Deal 956: Elevator blues

Up, then down, with long pauses of boredom in between. That is all I get to do. Of course, I rarely face a life or death dilemma in my lot in life. Up or down. Not really lots of choice or large consequences either.

Most passengers don’t opt for the witty repartee. Of course, after asking “up or down”, opportunities are not exactly pounding on my doors. The weather only matters when it is bad enough that passengers are tracking it into my floor.

I’m actually very clumsy, but people don’t see that. I can see that I miss my targets by as much as a quarter inch. That is right at the limit of my specification, but I hide it well.

Still and all, my choices are up or down.

I’d like to have the freedom to go sideways once. Or even to see the weather myself. I keep hearing about the blue sky, but have never seen it. All I have for comparison is my institutional white lighting. I’m told it is not the same thing at all.