Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Lift


The letter was burning in Jeff's pocket. It was one of those bad moments in his position as personal manager for the company. The company was not doing so well and decisions had to be made. For the younger staff, not so bad. They would find another job, in another company, but Joseph FitzSimmons, no, that just did not have to be. Admittedly he was on the wrong side of sixty, but officially he would be retired in two years, so why not wait? Companies lived from their profits and if money had to be saved, you started with those that could have an early retirement, then the lazy ones and eventually the workers you wanted to get rid of for some time. Joseph was number one on the list, he had to go.

Jeff liked Joseph. He was a good man, a worker, never complained if he had to work more hours, if he had to come in on a Saturday morning - no problem. His wife had died a year ago and he was on his own.

"I think I will wait until I give him the letter", Jeff was not happy about this. Then he was distracted by the telephone.

"Jeff Relf, Machine Tools Incorporated, can I help you."

"Of course you can Jeff, just pack your stuff together and come home, dinner is nearly ready and I have a funny feeling that this evening things are going to happen."

Jeff took a quick look at his watch, it was Jean his wife and she was right, it was time to go home.

"Things might happen, you mean..."

"Yes Jeff, I do, tomorrow we are going to be three in the family most probably. But no hurry, I will just be glad when you are home."

"I'm on my way love" and Jeff quickly cleared his desk and said his goodbyes for the evening. He had a train to catch and certainly did not want to be late. There might be a baby on the way.

He glanced quickly in Joseph's direction and noticed that his desk was already abandoned. He usually caught the same train as Jeff.

"Perhaps I could give him the letter when we part company at the station,  no tomorrow morning would be better."

Jeff left the office and enterered the lift, expecting to see Joseph, but there was no Joseph. "Thank goodness for small mercies" thought Jeff and entered the lift. The door was just closing when it sprang open again. Joseph was out of breath as if he had been running.

"That was lucky" Joseph said "I thought I had missed it already."

"I wondered if you would catch the lift, I thought you had already left" answered Jeff and he pressed the button for the ground floor.

"No, I had some business to finish first of all."

The lift moved and then there was an abrupt halt. Jeff was propelled to the opposite wall and there was a complete silence. No sound of a lift motor. and the lights went out. He could only hear the sound of his own breathing.

"Joseph, are you there?"

"Of course I am Jeff, don't intend going anywhere else at the moment. It seems that we are stuck, no light and no movement."

"Not exactly what I need at the moment. My wife called to say that our baby will probably be on its way this evening and being the first, I really don't need a lift that breaks down."

"No worry Jeff, I am sure things will turn out right. Just don't panic."

"But if I miss the train, then I can be lucky to get home in the next hour."

"Same here Jeff, but you are lucky to have someone waiting for you. I just go home to an empty house since Doris passed on. But I don't want to bother you with my problems, I have had a good life, good job and good colleagues. I am sure that this lift will start moving soon and you will be home in time."

Jeff was surprised how calm Joseph was. No light, everything broken, perhaps the lift might start tumbling down the shaft, and there he was quite cool telling Jeff not to worry.

"You know Jeff, I am sure my days are numbered in the company, I am not getting any younger, and have to make room for the youngsters. Today the new generation has to be dynamic, no time to consider personal problems, just look forward and walk over the bodies of the superfluous employees. I can see how things are going and am glad to go."

"But Joseph, you are are one of the best."

"Thanks Jeff, but we both know that the end comes just when you don't expect it. I think I will be glad when I meet my Doris again. I am sure she will be waiting for me. Sometimes I think I can see her."

The conversation was becoming somewhat weird for Jeff's taste, but then suddenly there was another jolt and he could hear the lift machinery again. The lights went on in the lift. Jeff just wanted to reply to Joseph's words and reassure him when the lift doors opened at the ground floor. He looked to Joseph to wish him a pleasant evenng, but Joseph was no longer there.

"He was quick" thought Jeff "probably in a hurry to get home and so am I."

Jeff left the lift and hurried on his way to the station. He glanced at this watch and saw that he had only a few seconds to get the train. He then found the entrance blocked by police and ambulances.

"I have to catch the train" said Jeff to a policeman.

"No more trains today" was the answer. "There was an accident at the station. The train arriving got derailed and a lot of people have been injured and killed that were waiting for the train to arrive.

"But how will I get home?"

"There are busses waiting as a special service."

Jeff managed to catch a bus and eventually arrived home.

Jean was waiting for him.

"Thank goodness you are ok and that nice Mr. FitzWilliam called me to say I shouldn't worry, you were not in that bad accident. There were a lot of people killed. It was the train you always catch."

"I know Jean, but luckily the lift broke down in the office and I was late. You said Joseph called you."

"Yes, he said not to worry and you would be home about half an hour later than usual. And now Jeff, you can call a taxi, our son has decided to put in an appearance this evening."

So Jeff and Jean were soon on their way to the maternity hospital.

The next morning Jeff arrived at the office and wanted to thank Joseph for phoning his wife and tell him that he was now the proud father of a son.

"Didn't you hear Jeff" said his secretary.


"Joseph was killed in the train accident yesterday evening. He was one of the passengers waiting for the train on the platform when it derailed. It is so tragic."


  1. A spooky tale, to be sure. Is Jeff relation of yours? I noticed a similarity of name.

  2. Good Morning Pat I am just heading out to the store gona have to come back and read this later have a great day;)

  3. No Mitch, Jeff is not related, but I sometimes run out of name ideas, so I borrow them from my ancestry stuff. You might see a Baldock, Camroux and a Lay now and again - all borrowed names from the family. Up to now havn't used any Gerbers or Studers but that would be the Swiss side of things.

  4. oh my goodness, now I am feeling all spooky, what a tale .............where do you get the ideas from , the inspiration ?? You should publish, you do know that !!!!