Environmental Sounds


The Tesla lineup (l-r): Models S, X, 3 and Y; photo from Tesla.

Soft and unobtrusive, so-called “elevator music” was originally designed to have a calming, soothing effect on people who were anxious about riding in elevators (especially those riding for the first time). For a time, the uncomplicated melodies and orchestral arrangements were fairly ubiquitous, emanating not only from elevator cars, but also waiting rooms, shopping malls and even car radios. At some point, though, the simple – some would say bland – tunes began to fall from favor, with many people becoming openly hostile toward the unassuming genre. As the hostility grew, the number of places you could hear the music became less and less, until even few elevators continued to serve up their signature sounds.

Not everyone hates elevator music, however, and a recently announced plan by a tech billionaire – none other than Elon Musk – could mark a comeback of sorts for the musical style. According to USA Today, the entrepreneur plans to have the electric cars from his company Tesla play elevator music through their external speakers, sharing the sound with pedestrians and other motorists. Musk announced the new offering in an August 20 tweet. No timeline was given as to when the feature would be available, but Tesla frequently sends upgrades via over-the-air updates (similar to smartphones), so it could happen anytime.

Not a Gator Elevator

A pair of deputies keep an alligator at bay outside an elevator at the Estero Parc apartments in Florida; image via the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

OK, we’ve all heard stories of elevator entrapments. And, tales of wildlife getting a little too close for comfort are all too common. But combining elevators and alligators is a new one, and something residents of an apartment complex in southwest Florida surely pray won’t happen to them again. According to UPI, it all started on August 3 at the Estero Parc apartments in Lee County, south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Several riders ready to exit their elevator were stunned when the doors opened and just outside the car sat a small alligator. Now, alligators are not unusual sights in coastal Florida, but it has to be a bit unnerving when one is blocking your only way out. Fortunately, deputies from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office were able to keep the critter corralled until a wildlife handler arrived on the scene and removed the scaly trespasser. There were no reports of injuries to either the people involved or the wayward reptile.

“You think you’re better than me???”

The above is a quote by Izzy Mandelbaum, an 80-year-old fitness enthusiast portrayed on Seinfeld by the late, great Lloyd Bridges. Mandelbaum, along with his elderly son, Izzy Jr., and even more elderly father, Izzy Sr…loved weightlifting and lived in the same retirement community — the fictional Del Boca Vista — as Jerry Seinfeld’s parents. The Mandelbaums were fierce when it came to physical training and competition, and Mandelbaum techniques landed them in the hospital. Twice.

I couldn’t help but think of the Mandelbaums when I read the story and saw the video on CBS affiliate Channel 12 News of a misunderstanding between two senior citizen neighbors in a condo high rise in Miami Beach, Florida. With property managers limiting elevator capacity to two in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, an 86-year-old gentleman attempted to enter an elevator already carrying a 72-year-old man and his wife. The elder man misunderstood the 72-year-old’s holding up two fingers. He meant “two passengers only,” but the older man interpreted the gesture as a “peace” sign. What ensued was anything but peaceful, as the younger man shoved the older one to prevent him from entering the elevator and is now facing assault charges.

Nerves are frayed in the COVID-19 era, and it’s a shame these longtime neighbors clashed in such an unpleasant way. Here’s hoping the situation comes to an amicable conclusion.