May 28, 2008
By Karly Pearson, Delafield, WI

With the first step off his private jet, Phil McGraw calls his wife. Locating his new Blackberry cell phone, he dials his wife’s cell. When he hears her voice his mind clears of everything that went wrong in the last 8 hour flight back home to California. He tells her how much he has missed her this past week and that his plane has landed safely.
“I love you and I’ll meet you in the lobby,” he said then hung up his cell phone.
The doors glide softly open as if they were on fresh ice. They are silent, quiet, and peaceful-the direct opposite Phil heard on this past business trip. He pushes the main level button and leans against the back wall that gives him the similar support that his job entails to give other people. He takes stress-relieving breaths to the tune of the soft elevator music.
The doors open again and in skips Akeelah, a careless 14-something girl in pigtails. She walks in, presses a number, and gives a big smile to Dr. Phil.
Just before the doors shut, Monk sneaks in carrying a brief case. The door closes and makes his plastic-covered suitcase jam between the forces of the two closing elevator doors. Monk fights with the strength of the metal doors and gives a hard tug. With a second tug, he flies to the back wall of the elevator and his suitcase flings open into the air. He shuffles his contracts together blowing off and dusting each individual paper and neatly categorizes them by color. Akeelah bends down and helps him pick up his papers. He snatches the papers out of her hand and sanitizes the spot where she held it with a wipe he pulls out of his pocket.
“Are you okay?” Akeelah said with a little giggle.
Standing up, he takes out an anti-bacterial wipe and washes his hand, and then said “Yes, thanks. But please, do not touch my papers with your grubby hands, little girl.” He neatly folds the contaminated wipe, places it in a small baggie, and puts it in his pocket.
Akeelah looks at the illuminated elevator lights and counts them as they change floor numbers every 10 seconds. The elevator stops. Akeelah starts hopping up and down pretending she has a jump rope and says “I think S-T-U-C-K, a five letter word that comes from the Latin wor-.”
“No one cares about the spelling or where it comes from. We’re stuck! Do you know how many germs and diseases are in this four foot box?” said Monk, cutting off the girl’s words.

While Monk babbles about how dirty the elevator is, Dr. Phil whips out his Blackberry again and calls for help, then said to Monk “Take a few deep breaths Monk. We’ll be fine.”

“We’re not fine! We’re dangling in a bacteria breeding ground between two floors” Monk said.
“We have acknowledged that we are in need of help, and we will receive it. This will take patience. So sit back and let’s breathe.”
Monk takes out a piece of plastic no bigger than a greeting card and unfolds it until it is equivalent to his height. He spreads it across the elevator and sits upon the now sterile floor.
“Tell me a word to spell, sir” Akeelah said to Dr. Phil.
“Spell mysophobia,” Dr. Phil said.
“Definition, please?”
“The overwhelming fear of germs and dirt,” Dr. Phil said.
Akeelah began to jump rope with her imagination. She says each letter with the rhythm of her jumping, “M-Y-S-O-P-H-O-B-I-A.” With each jump, the elevator lowers inch by inch, germ by germ until the elevator reaches the destination. Picking up the suitcases, they each left the broken elevator.

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