Bob Levenson -- Elevator Encounters



It my brief three plus years at DDB, we never once had anything that would qualify as a
conversation -- nothing beyond "Hi's" in the hallways. Except, that is, for our little close-of-day
elevator encounters. Maybe a half-dozen times, I'd hit the down button on the 24th floor, the doors
would slide open and there was Bob in the otherwise empty elevator. Oh goody, I'd think! Here's
my chance to engage one of the business's legendary wits in sparkling chit-chat

For some reason, facing forward in silence after greeting each other was never an option. He'd
always make some comment, I'd blurt out some lame response, and by the time we got to the lobby,
he'd wrap things up with a nifty little zinger in that casual rumble of a voice. The result was always
pretty much the same -- I'd head home feeling like I'd gone a few floors with Fred Allen -- the funny
Allen before Woody. While I'd come off like a pretty dim bulb.

The previous time we'd seen each other was at his brother Larry's memorial service in Westchester.
As the elder of the two, he spoke movingly about how wrong it seemed for Larry to precede him to
the hereafter. He recalled an expression from his youth when somebody jumped ahead of you in a
deli while you were waiting to place your order. "He took my turn," he said.

Even with a heavy heart, his touch never deserted him. And his passing makes me regret that during
our long ago descents to the lobby, I was too awe-struck to enjoy the ride.

Nat Russo
DDB Copywriter