December 12, 2018

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Opinion

Rising (and gently falling) star

Winnipeggers elevate mysterious but ubiquitous civil servant to social media celebrity

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Daphne Super created an Instagram fan page dedicated to Cheryl Lashek.</p>

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Daphne Super created an Instagram fan page dedicated to Cheryl Lashek.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/7/2017 (523 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Allow me to set up a scene: you’re in an elevator with another person — it’s the worst moment — and you are trying not to make eye contact. You look up at the numbers, descending, a countdown to when you’ll be set free. Your eyes wander over to the elevator permit, in its plastic display case. “Huh,” you think to yourself, “this elevator can fit 56 people in it.”

Then you see her name: Cheryl Lashek.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/7/2017 (523 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Allow me to set up a scene: you’re in an elevator with another person — it’s the worst moment — and you are trying not to make eye contact. You look up at the numbers, descending, a countdown to when you’ll be set free. Your eyes wander over to the elevator permit, in its plastic display case. "Huh," you think to yourself, "this elevator can fit 56 people in it."

Then you see her name: Cheryl Lashek.

 

 

She's there through our highs and lows #CherylLAShek #evenonMONdAYS ������ #cherylgodbless

A post shared by Cheryl Lashek Fan Page (@cheryllashekfan) on

 

If you’ve been inside a Winnipeg elevator, it’s likely that name will be familiar to you. Lashek is the director of Inspection and Technical Services Manitoba and, as such, her signature can be found on most elevator permits. And thanks to the sheer ubiquity of her name, Cheryl Lashek has become something of a cult figure in Winnipeg. She even has an Instagram account dedicated to her.

The Cheryl Lashek Fan Page (@cheryllashekfan) was started in May and has almost 900 followers. The posts, which have more than 100 likes each, are mostly of Lashek’s autograph. They are accompanied by hashtags such as #cherylgodbless, #incherylwetrust, #everydayhero and, my personal favourite, #cherylstreepofelevators, along with liberal use of the prayer-hands emoji and elevator puns. One photo, of an open elevator door, is captioned "Cheryl’s Portal." 

 

 

Cheryl's PORTAL����#incherylwetrust #takemetoanotherlevel

A post shared by Cheryl Lashek Fan Page (@cheryllashekfan) on

 

Cheryl Lashek — or her signature, at least — has lot of adoring millennial fans who are on a first-name basis with her, but none more so than the creator of the Cheryl Lashek Fan Page: a 23-year-old born-and-raised Winnipegger named Daphne Super, who took note of Lashek’s artful signature and obvious commitment to safety.

"My friend and I were talking about these Winnipeg idols, and Cheryl’s name came up," she explains. "You see her name everywhere."

Super quickly learned she and her friends aren’t the only ones who have noticed Cheryl Lashek’s autograph in this city’s elevators; the response to her Instagram account has been overwhelming. "I didn’t think so many people would connect over something so silly," she says. 

 

When your own MOTHER believes in the Cheryl������ #happymothersday #CherylLASherGUARDIANoftheELEVATors! #cherylgodbless #sunday

A post shared by Cheryl Lashek Fan Page (@cheryllashekfan) on

Super’s followers obviously share a similar quirky sense of humour, but the Cheryl Lashek Fan Page also reveals a human truth: we all intently study elevator permits in order to avoid awkward interactions with people in confined spaces, or to distract us from the fact that we’re travelling down a shaft in a metal box suspended by cables.

"Cheryl keeps you safe, but she also keeps you comfortable," Super says. "She calms you in times of anxiety. Every day, whether I’m coming home from work in a stressed-out state, or happy, or drunk, she’s always there for me." 

 

��A GREAT CANADIAN DRINK TO A GREAT CANADIAN LEGEND�� #cherylgodbless

A post shared by Cheryl Lashek Fan Page (@cheryllashekfan) on

Super, who grew up in River Heights, previously considered putting together a similar page for Rod "I Never Sleep" Peeler, the veteran real estate agent and another Winnipeg-famous person.

But when it comes to achieving local celebrity, Lashek is a bit of an anomaly. She’s not recognizable in the way a hockey player, musician, radio personality or even real estate agent is; her face isn’t on a bus bench. 

She’s not, like, broadcaster Ace Burpee, I say to Daphne at one point in our conversation. "I think Cheryl’s more of a public figure than Ace Burpee," she shot back. "Do you see Ace Burpee’s name in every elevator?" Touché.

For Super’s part, the aura of mystery surrounding Cheryl Lashek is part of the attraction.

"She’s like a mythical creature," she says. "She is the Guardian Angel of Elevators." 

 

 

The Gospel of Cheryl #safehaven #ourlifeisinCHERYLShands

A post shared by Cheryl Lashek Fan Page (@cheryllashekfan) on

Of course, Cheryl Lashek is, in fact, an actual person with an important job, and I know this because I bothered her at work. Her fans will be happy to hear she was very nice about it, but she demurred when asked about the fan page since it’s related to her job — and while the Instagram account is all in good fun, elevator safety is no joke. "I am aware of it," Lashek said of the page, "but I can’t comment on it further than that."  And so, Lashek — the woman — remains elusive.

It’s often said that one should never meet their heroes, but Super says she would love to meet Lashek in real life.

"Oh yeah," she says. "One hundred per cent I’d be thrilled to meet Cheryl. That would be the topper. That would be so cool."

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @JenZoratti

Jen Zoratti

Jen Zoratti
Columnist

Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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