How many of you out there work in an office building that has an elevator with mirrored doors? Raise your hands. C’mon.
Higher, I can’t see you.
That’s what I thought.
Now, how many of you like being assaulted with your reflection five days a week from the moment you set foot into your office building until the moment you step out, and all the steps you take in between to, say, go to lunch, get coffee, or just retrieve something you may have forgotten in your car (providing, that is, you remember where your car is parked and have extra time during the workday to figure it out or manage any ensuing panic)?
Go ahead, raise your hands again.
Just what I thought. So I am not alone.
That fact always makes me feel better.
Let me speak for all of us, then, in saying that mirrors in the elevator are awkward for a number of reasons (hello building designers and architects, are you listening?). I mean, I get their purpose: To make the space feel bigger. But they are also prohibitive in terms of being able to a) stare at other people’s reflections without appearing slightly crazy (hello, can anybody say “kill joy”?) and b) hide from ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at myself in the elevator doors at work, I wonder if I really look like the squat woman who resembles a young Mickey Rooney with big red hair reflected back. How is it that, in this not-so-fun funhouse mirror, the skirt and top that looked perfectly lovely just hours earlier has suddenly morphed into something you’d find on the cover of a Frumps-R-Us catalogue? (Let’s not even talk about the exaggerated circumference of my exposed calves.)
Now, I’m not trying to put myself down. That’s not the point. I’m just wondering: Is it just me? Or does anybody ever like the way they look in an elevator mirror? And what do I look like? Really?
Sometimes, when I’m riding up to the 12th floor, I try to focus in on another rider’s body parts as they’re reflected in person and then the mirror to see if the images match. It’s my own scientific method for seeing if the mirror is playing tricks on me and to gauge what’s real in terms of my own anatomy. Usually, however, it’s difficult to be inconspicuous in getting this kind of information—a good view of some stranger’s butt, say, or stomach. As a result, it rarely bears fruit, leaving me more confused and frustrated about what’s true in the end.
What makes matters worse is that I pass through some eight mirrors in the course of a regular morning and look different in each and every one.
1. The bathroom mirror.
2. The barely full-length mirror I bought for $12.99 at “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” some 12 years ago and moved across four states, which is now nailed to the back of my walk-in closet.
3. The long wall mirror in the foyer I must pass on my way to the blessed kitchen.
4. The extremely clean, ergo reflective, glass French door I must pass on my way to the garage.
5. The small mirror on my visor in the Honda Element.
6. The dreaded elevator mirrors.
7. The too many super clean glass doors in the office.
8. The two bathroom mirrors at work.
Which of the bevy of reflections I see in each of these am I to rely on? Which tells the real story of who Jill Sherer Murray is from the outside?
And then, when I get too obsessed with not having the answer, I think lovingly back to the days when it didn’t matter—when I could ride up to my office in relative peace, calmed by the delusion that I looked fantastic.
Back then, I worked for a dental association in Chicago. Their elevator walls were designed to look and feel like hardened tooth enamel. And they were glorious—a fine shelter from not only the other people in the mechanical yo yo, but my own self-inflicted bad thoughts. Why, not even the laser-beam eyes of a wild cat could penetrate their purposely porous surface.
Oh how I miss those days. (Of course, I complained about them mercilessly at the time, you know.)
So tell me: How do you feel about the mirrors in your world? I’m curious.
Until next time!