I was puzzled about the noisemaking Israeli School of Universal Practical Knowledge's (ISUPK) absence from our Northeast neighborhood on Saturday, May 6. The weather was beautiful—perfect conditions for their amplified shout-fest. I discovered the official reason yesterday while riding the elevator at work.
As I've written before, one of the ISUPK men exchanges his Saturday urban camouflage ensemble for a weekday uniform of dress slacks, shirt and necktie. I know this because we both work in the same building in downtown Washington, D.C. We've shared many an awkward elevator ride to our day jobs—his on the fifth floor and mine on the sixth.
We're cordial. We say hello, but that's about it. I usually ask him if he's going to show up Saturday in my neighborhood and he always says "yeah." I ask him if his group will have the amplifier and he always says "yeah." Yesterday morning, I spotted him striding from the opposite direction toward our building's entrance. I knew what I wanted to ask him.
We nodded to each other as we entered the building, and walked in silence toward the elevators, he a few steps ahead of me. We stopped, he pushed the button and we waited.
"How's it going?" I asked.
"Fine," he said.
The bell dings and the elevator doors open. We entered the car, along with two others on their way to desk jobs. It was silent.
"So, the weather was beautiful Saturday," I said. "I was surprised to not see you on the corner. Where were you fellows?"
"Just taking a break," he replied.
"You sure everything's OK; nothing of concern?" I asked.
"No. Everything's fine. We were just taking a break," he said.
"What'd you do on your break?" I asked. "Did you watch sports? Drink a few beers? Go out on a date?"
"No. Just took a break," he answered again.
The bell dinged, announcing our arrival at the fifth floor and the door opened.
"Take it easy," I said.
"You too," he replied as he walked off down the hallway. The elevators doors closed.
The other two passengers looked at me puzzled. "Long story," I said as the elevator reached the sixth floor and I exited. "A long, loud story."