Stuck on the Elevator

As panic sets in somewhere around the 16th floor, many thoughts occur–except one.

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Posted in , Feb 23, 2015

Elevator button. Photo by Hemera Technologies, Thinkstock.

Last Friday, I got stuck in the elevator in my apartment building for 20 long minutes.

That probably doesn’t sound so terrible. But I started freaking out the second the elevator froze mid-ride somewhere around the 16th floor. Not only was I all alone in a wood-paneled box, but I have a bit of an overactive imagination…which is really just a nice way to say that I’m really, really good at panicking!

I pressed the elevator alarm button. Nothing. I jabbed it. Nothing. I tried a button labeled “CALL CANCEL” next to a friendly illustration of a fireman’s hat. Surely that would alert the five closest fire departments. I pictured a team of firefighters pulling me out on a rope from the top of the elevator. But nothing happened.

Out of options, I called the front desk on my cell phone.

“Hi, I’m in the elevator and it’s stuck,” I said.

Oh, you’re the one who’s been calling us from the elevator,” the doorman said. “We’ll get you out, just stay put.”

Stay put? Where in the world was I going to go? To the other side of the elevator where there were better views and more natural light?

Five minutes later, the elevator still hadn’t moved an inch. That didn’t stop me from picturing it free falling to the ground floor, like that Tower of Terror Disney ride. Just then the mysterious “CALL CANCEL” button buzzed loudly. Was that some sort of signal for me?

I pressed the button, hoping it’d activate a sophisticated conference call system. Once again, nothing.  I called the front desk. “There’s a buzzing noise!” I said.

“Don’t worry,” the doorman said. “You’re gonna be okay. Just sit tight.”  

He sounded calm. Too calm? Oh. My. Goodness. I’m going to be stuck in here forever!

I slowly moved to the back of the elevator and leaned against the wall, hoping my delicate movements wouldn’t cause the elevator car to lurch wildly on whatever threadbare cables were holding it in place.  

Time to take inventory of the supplies I had on me. I was wearing a very puffy winter coat that could act as a sleeping bag or, if necessary, a floatation device. In my handbag there were five clementines, a bottle of diet Snapple, lip balm and hand sanitizer.

Well, that would get me through to at least the afternoon…but what about after that? I’d left an hour early for the office that morning so I could work on a story that was due at noon.

I could just picture the newspaper headline the following morning: Woman Stuck in Elevator 19 Hours! Survives on Small Oranges…But Misses Work Deadline.

The elevator lights flickered. Then went out completely. Then came back on. I could hear the other elevator cars whizzing by, taunting me. A voice came over the elevator–ha! I knew there was a speaker system–but I couldn’t understand what it was saying. 

And then, like it was no big deal at all, the elevator moved up and opened on the 16th floor. I rushed out, hopped on another elevator and rode down to the lobby. I was shaken up, but free!

“Are you okay?” the doorman said.

“Yes,” I said. “But I was so scared in there!”

“You never know,” he said, “that may have saved you from something else out there…”

I was taken aback at his cryptic words. In all my stages of panicking, I’d never thought of that. I’d prayed to God. I’d worried about my story deadline. And whether or not I was about to meet my maker.

But never had it crossed my mind that God was keeping me on that elevator for a set amount of time for a very specific reason. Whoa! 

What do you think? Just 20 minutes stuck on an elevator…or a miracle in disguise? 

Share your thoughts–and your own miraculous elevator stories–below!

Tags: Winter
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