Mr. X left his house on what he thought was a fine Thursday morning. He had all the reasons to be optimistic in the world, after all he has finally landed a job interview for his dream job, a fortune 500 company whose work he’s admired and been passionate about for years. He had his best suit on, he even wore cufflinks, regardless of how pretentious he thought they were, but he thought this was the kind of occasion that called for useless, expensive accessories.
He could swear he heard the electric glass doors greet him as they slid open. He strutted into the building with full confidence, there was no reason in his mind he couldn’t nail this one. He pushed through a bunch of people in suits who look like they haven’t had their morning coffee yet, thinking that in a few weeks he could be standing there himself having small talk with these strangers who will no longer be strangers.
And then there was an elevator.
He stood motionless behind a handful of people waiting for a lift. A couple of young interns, an uptight looking lady with pearl earrings, and a man carrying a briefcase and talking into his cellphone. He looked around to see where the stairs were, but he remembered his interview was on the 20th floor, and there’s no telling what 20 flights of stairs could do to your overall appearance, and first impressions were paramount when it comes to getting a job in a prestigious company. As the elevator’s door opened and people started to flow in, he found himself to take a quick decision. Yes, he has always hated these boxy things moving up and down narrow shafts, but he had no choice this time. As everyone settled in they looked at him, waiting for him to hop in too. The woman with the pearl earrings seemed annoyed, while the man kept talking into his cellphone. One of the interns asked him if he was coming, so he nodded automatically and stepped in without a word.
He watched the number of floors change slowly, anxious to get to his destination. He felt trapped despite all his attempts to stay cool. And then, his worst nightmare came true with a sudden jerk and a halt.
One of the interns pressed the alarm button. Mr. X then reached nervously and started pressing it harder. The interns gave him a perplexed look and the man with the briefcase stopped talking on his cellphone, while the lady with the pearl earrings eyes him with some contempt.
Suddenly all he could think about was how claustrophobic he was, and all he could see was oxygen molecules draining out of the air. The other passengers looked relatively relaxed, as relaxed as a person trapped in an elevator and running late for work could be. He, on the other hand, grew pale. His forehead broke out in cold sweat, he felt his chest tighten and his breathing getting labored.
10 minutes later the doors of the elevator opened to reveal four pale passengers huddled over a motionless, bluish one.
Mrs. Y had one recurring nightmare where she dies in a horrific traffic accident, but to say that those nightmares where the reason she dreaded driving would be wrong, as it was the other way around. In fact, she didn’t get a driver’s license until she was 35, only because she had to. Her kids were still too young to drive and her husband couldn’t run all the errands by himself. And despite being on the road for 15 years, she still had dark thoughts every time she got behind the wheel.
But if she was scared of driving in normal conditions, she was twice as scared to drive under the rain, or when the streets got really foggy.
That fateful day started sunny, so she thought she’d not cancel on her doctor’s appointment. However, by the time she was out, it had started to rain cats and dogs.
She drove for a few miles at a maximum speed of 50 k/hr. But then she thought she couldn’t do it anymore. the rain was getting heavier, home was still 30 minutes away at the normal speed, and her nerves wouldn’t last that long, she thought.
So she pulled over and decided to wait it out. The rain must stop sometime, she thought, and she kept the car running to enjoy the luxury of the heater. Sure, she didn’t have much fuel left but it should keep her warm for 2 or 3 hours, she thought, and she’d still have enough fuel to get her home. How long will it keep raining after all?
But the rain didn’t stop. The temperatures kept dropping drastically, and soon enough the engine died, taking her warmth away with it. And she dozed off.
By midnight the rain had stopped and the streets turned into shimmering silvery sheets. Everything had frozen, everything including Mrs. Y, and the next morning everything would melt its way back to life, but she wouldn’t.
Mr. Z knew every airplane accident that has ever taken place, both major and minor ones. He has watched every single plane crash movie and could point out the tiniest inaccuracies in them. He knew all about cabin pressure, oxygen masks, traffic control towers blunders and crash landings, which was quite impressive, especially for someone who has never been on a plane, and vowed to never go on one.
His parents tried everything to make him change his mind, but he wouldn’t budge. They were all going on a vacation to South Asia, but he said he’d rather stay alive. They told him the odds were not in favor of a plane crash, and he responded by saying what if the odds that days were against them?
He told them to enjoy their vacation while he stayed home to catch up on some work, but he couldn’t get any work done until he was sure his family had landed safely in their destination. Only then he could finally feel relaxed enough to go for a short walk to reenergize himself and wash away all that worry he was bundled up in.
Yes, Mr. Z was perhaps the world’s best uncelebrated expert on plane crashes, but he knew very little about tornadoes, much less the one that uprooted him and landed him 20 miles away from his porch with a thundering crash.
P.S: Upon further investigation, those three people were found to have died of the same cause.