When Einstein and Freud Were Stuck In An Elevator

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Five

Einstein, wearing a grey, stretched-out sweater and worn, baggy pants, stood in the center of the elevator car, some papers and folders tucked under his arm. The car stopped at the third floor.

He ran his hand through the carnival of wiry gray hair that stood on end above his hound-dog like face. Three boisterous teens entered. He silently moved to the rear. Fourth floor. Another stop. A woman with a toddler in a folding stroller joined them. “Seven, please,” she said.

The elevator ascended, but it slowed only to stop at the sixth floor. Einstein rubbed his chin and mumbled, “By my calculations, the odds of having another stop with only two floors to go would be 6% with a ratio of 10% error.” Everyone turned to look at him, even the toddler in the stroller. The old man with the wild hair shrugged.

When the elevator door opened on six, Einstein moved aside to allow a lean man with a long face to enter. The man carried a notebook with the name, Dr. Sigmund Freud, printed clearly in the top corner. He was well-dressed, wearing a three-piece suit, tie, and a visible pocket watch. He wore round-framed glasses. With a furrowed brow, he faced the elevator crowd seeming to challenge each of them to be the first to make eye contact. Freud pulled a pen from his inside jacket pocket and wrote in his notebook a study: who will be first to turn away? He adjusted his vest then continued writing. Research suggests the adolescent would likely avoid eye contact due to heightened self-consciousness brought about by the initial stages of sexual desire. The teens turned away and formed a tighter group as if they could hear his thoughts. Dr. Freud made one more note, correct.

The elevator suddenly jerked causing all inside to tumble into one another. Einstein dropped his papers. When he reached down for them, the young mother lost her balance and rolled her stroller over his hand. “Dumkopf!” he shouted.

Dr. Freud raised his brows. “Perhaps there is an anger-management problem, yes?”

Einstein, with his sad hound’s face, pointed to his own chest.

Freud nodded.

“Nein.” Einstein collected his papers and took his place again at the rear of the elevator car.

Denial, the Freud wrote in his notebook.

The teens began to giggle. The young mom said, “We’re stuck. This is terrible. Someone call for help.” Her toddler began to cry.

“Classic anal stage,” Freud said as he glanced at the toddler.

“If you’ll excuse me, please.” Einstein stepped forward. “This is a simple case of physics. You see, the momentum of the pull against the force of gravity must equal a ratio by which the pull is greater. By my calculations, if we all stand on one foot to reduce the gravitational pressure against the elevator floor, the pounds-per-inch pressure should reduce by…let me see…” He took a pen from his sagging sweater pocket, scribbled on his paper, and said, “Elevation equals mass compression squared.” He wrote across the elevator’s inspection certificate. “E=MC2.”

One teen boy said to the mom, “Can you shut that kid up?”

Freud opened his notebook again. Behavior bordering on aggression. Obviously, asserting a male-dominant ego. Typical. He said, “The child is incapable of ceasing his crying. Anal stage, you see. He is using behavior he believes will have an effect on his surroundings and others. His crying is a control tactic.”

“I need to get out of here!” the mom screamed.

“Madam, may I remind you that you are well beyond the whim of your id,” said Freud.

She cursed at him.

 Freud made further notes. Fear manifesting in aggression resulting from a perception of loss of control. Dr. Freud adjusted his glasses. And, perhaps, another anger management problem.

The mom yelled, “Someone do something!” She opened the top buttons of her coat. “We’re going to die!”

The disheveled Einstein — by now, he had written calculations across two walls of the elevator car — said, “I will have our solution momentarily.” He continued to scribble numbers and symbols.

Freud noticed that two of the teens began to kiss in the back corner of the elevator car and noted, the inevitable progression resulting from a manufactured closeness imitating the perception of bonding. Classic. 

After writing furiously across the elevator walls, Einstein put his pen down. “I have the solution.” He walked around the stroller to the front of the elevator. “The solution is simple. The flow of energy must be greater than the mass. With a catalyst to inject thrust at the proper pressure, the propulsion will be great enough to force mass into movement.” He pushed the button that said UP. The elevator began to move, and he quietly returned to the back of the car.

Freud stared at Einstein with his disheveled papers and uncombed hair. He wrote, Superiority complex.

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