Every so often another example of something from Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy" happens to me in real life. Today it was the self satisfied doors to the building's elevators.
There's been that creeping elegance amongst lift designers to try to improve on the basic design. Remember that thing where you press a button, wait a few moments for a lift to arrive, step inside and select a floor?
After installing the helpful voices to call out floor numbers, the next thing has been the removal of the interior buttonage.
We've all experienced these newer designs, where there's a flat panel display outside the elevators.
You press a touch screen to select a floor (or maybe twice if you have -er - hot hands)
The display tells you the next available lift (which in one building I visit is sometimes hidden around a corner)
The lift arrives and you are whisked to the floor on a stopping service with a group of other people. No more ability to see a lift fill up and then select an adjacent empty one to speed past the 'slow service'.
Greater chances to see optimally stuffed elevators arrive bursting with people who have experienced a slow ride down 12 or 20 floors.
Today the lift was displaying a message above the door where it usually has the floor number.
It said "Windows Error - out of virtual memory"
We looked glumly at one another as we entered and gritted our teeth for the thought that there wouldn't be another lift along until this one had cleared but this one may now be suffering from unpredictable routing.
Actually, it was fine and we got to the tenth floor successfully.
But as we exited, we noticed the touch screen panel was now filling with white courier ten font writing on a black background and an error message repeating many times, in German. Something about 'eine Fehler'
Bing bong - came the announcement.
"We are sorry to have to report that the lifts at the Southern end of the building are out of action"
An hour later...Bing Bong - another announcement: "We are sorry to have to report that all of the lifts in the building are out of action - please notify security if you need help to leave the building."
I walked down the stairs at the end of the day. I thought I heard the lifts giggling.
“Ghastly,” continued Marvin, “it all is. Absolutely ghastly. Just don't even talk about it. Look at this door,” he said, stepping through it. The irony circuits cut into his voice modulator as he mimicked the style of the sales brochure. “All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done.”
As the door closed behind them it became apparent that it did indeed have a satisfied sigh-like quality to it. “Hummmmmmmyummmmmmm ah!” it said.