A Short Course in Critical Thinking

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This morning, our building’s access control system is down. As a result, the key fobs we normally use to operate the elevators, open the gate to the parking garage, or unlock doors when we return to the building, aren’t working.

Because no special access is needed to exit the building, everyone walking his dog or going out for a morning run can get outside just fine. But when the morning’s chores are done, neither the parking garage gate nor the entrance doors will open. If you’re lucky enough to catch someone coming outside as you want to go in, you’re still stuck, because, while you can summon and board an elevator, you can’t select a floor.

Windy Day and I discover this at 5:45 a.m., when we head out for a quick morning walk. Once we realize we’re trapped outside, we walk around to the front entrance, capture the attention of the concierge, and get back in the lobby. Once there, we’re approached by a breathless woman who is all about “the crisis.”

“My key fob’s worn out!” she tells us, waving it around in the air for emphasis. “I need a new one!”

“The whole system’s down,” I say.

“It might just be my key fob,” she says. “This kind of thing happens to me.”

“I have two fobs with me,” I say. “Neither one works. It’s the system.”

She turns to the concierge. “Do you have any extra fobs?”

“It’s the system,” I say. “No fobs will work.”

“His might,” our neighbor insists.

“It won’t.”

The woman’s cheeks are bright red. “Just try it.”

The concierge takes three fobs, steps into the elevator, and tries each one. Each one fails.

Our neighbor absorbs this. “Are there any other fobs to try?”

“It’s the system,” I say again. “It’s the readers themselves, not the fobs.”

“I’d use the stairs,” the woman says, “but I’d get trapped in the stairwell.”

I consider this. “There aren’t any key fob readers in the stairwells.”

“There are,” our neighbor says. “Every floor.”

“I don’t think so,” I say. I check the lobby stairwell door. “No reader here.”

Our neighbor assumes her full height. “There are readers on the upper floors.”

“I don’t think so,” the concierge says.

At this point, my text messages reach Clyde, and he lets me know he’s calling the elevator to our floor. (Doing so doesn’t require a key fob.) I hop on the elevator and tell our neighbor that I think this elevator will now take us to at least the eighth floor.

“Your fob is working?”

I shake my head. “No, but I’ve gotten someone on that floor to call this elevator.”

She joins me. As it happens, someone else on the seventh floor has also called the elevator, and it stops one floor shy of our destination.

Our neighbor pops out of the elevator, rushes up to the people who have called it, and says, “My key fob’s not working. Is yours?”

Windy Day and I take the stairs up one flight, where Clyde is waiting. Do I need to tell you whether or not there were any key fob scanners on the stairwell doors?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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Who Wrote This?

Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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