The Janitor

Everyone had gone home. The office building, a tall dark business tower centered in a populated city square, was completely vacant. During the day, the sidewalks in the square were bustling with men and women of high status hurrying to and from the neighboring offices, as well as everyday visitors perusing the ground-level retail. But at night, all was empty. Only the low hum of street lamps and the sounds of loose trash scraping the pavement in the wind could be heard. That is, until a stout gentleman arrived in front of the office building, rolling a cart of cleaning supplies. 

This gentleman was the janitor, and had been assigned to this building for the past six years. His only job was to show up after hours and clean the coffee stains, footprints, scattered papers, and various other bits of dust and muck from the building. He came every night, and worked diligently. It was a lonely job. The bosses of the corporation were wealthy pricks, and never wanted janitorial staff like himself to be seen. So he would spend each evening at home, awaiting a notification saying that all employees had left the building. Only then would he arrive to fulfill his duties. 

On this evening, after everyone had checked out, the gentleman dragged his cart to the tall golden-framed door, scanned his keycard, and entered the premises. His cart wheels squeaked across the floor, and echoed throughout the spacious lobby. All lights were off, per usual. He approached the elevators and pressed the “up” arrow. There were twenty floors, and he liked to start at the top and work his way down for convenience. He heard the ding with almost no hesitation, and the doors slid open. 

The ceiling light of the elevator flickered on. The janitor trudged in, and the doors closed. Without even needing to glance at the buttons, he reached down a few inches and pressed “20.” He closed his eyes, and felt the smooth mechanism of the elevator lift his body upward. He knew this elevator ride all too well, and could practically count the seconds. It should be about half a minute to the top. But it wasn’t.

About ten seconds in, the elevator stopped. The janitor opened his eyes, and glanced at the small screen above the elevator door. He had stopped on the seventh floor. In all his years of visiting this office after hours, not once had he crossed paths with another person. And now, on the seventh floor of this empty tower, someone was waiting to be let on.

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