This past Saturday, I got stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes with 7 other people.
Don’t get fooled by the smiles on our faces. This is before the air ran out.
My cousin Blair’s college graduation ended and we were nauseous with hunger. We [everyone in the photo above] drove from the hotel to my other cousin’s apartment for a cocktail hour. Appetizers waited upstairs. Cheese platters, salami platters, fruit platters, hummus platters, small platters, big platters. Platters, platters, platters.
My cousin Mary Kate came downstairs to let us in the apartment. The 8 of us walked down a wide hallway to the elevator. We were headed to the 5th floor. All 8 of us piled into the elevator. I would later find myself asking myself questions such as, “Why did we all think it was a good idea to pile into one tiny elevator?” “Why didn’t I take the stairs?” “What does the phrase ‘tongue in cheek’ humor mean? I don’t understand it”.
The elevator was small. Width-wise, I could spread my arms fully and just about touch both walls with the tips of my index fingers. There would not be enough room for me to do a full split. [which I cannot actually do] Length-wise, I’d estimate it was 6 feet. With 8 of us piled in, there was no room to move. We stood shoulder to shoulder. Aunt Mary pressed the 5 button and the doors closed. It was a tight squeeze, and I stated the obvious. “Imagine if we all got stuck on here,” I said. I uttered those exact words from my mouth.
One minute passed and there was no movement of the elevator. There was chatter amongst the family. “I can’t wait to eat the platters,” said Mary Kate. She stood toward the front of the elevator. I observed what was going on. Another minute passed. “Oh my God, I think we’re stuck,” cousin Blair said looking back and forth. Sheer panic filled the cubicle. I started to smile because it was a funny situation. Aunt Mary pressed the “Door Open” button. Nothing happened.
It is in times like these we see how people react to uncomfortable situations. Who acts as the hero? Who acts as the onlooker? Who acts as the wimp who can’t physically hold themselves up due to shaky legs?
My sister freaked. She is a squeamish person to begin with. She gets grossed out when dealing with vomit [understandable] and cleaning dishes with food left on the plate. She jumps back and cringes if someone touches her wrist or collarbone. She thinks they are very sensitive areas. As kids, we were eating lunch in the conference room at my dad’s office. She knocked over her bottle of orange soda; it spilled on the table. Instead of walking to the counter for a napkin, she sprinted to the bathroom and locked herself inside.
“Take off your sweater, you’re making me hot,” my sister said to me inside the elevator. I didn’t want to take it off because my body was at a comfortable temperature. Also, it would be hard to maneuver due to the lack of space. “Please take it off,” she said. I looked up toward the ceiling, rolled my eyes and took off my sweater. My elbow hit my aunt in her boobie. “Whoops,” I said.
Kaitlin used her cell phone to called our relatives waiting upstairs. The first call was dropped because we had no service. The second call went through.
Mary Kate pressed the emergency button. She dropped to the floor to talk into the speaker. A man told us he would be there in 15 minutes. “NOOO,” we screamed. We would laugh later as to why they screamed “No”. In the moment, we wanted immediate relief. 15 minutes is a reasonable time for someone to get all the way across town.
Our relatives upstairs called the fire department.
The elevator temperature began to rise. There was a lot of body heat. I really wan’t nervous at all. There was 4% of me that thought, “What if the air ran out. That would be scary.” I imagined all of us would start to panic and move around like members of a rowdy mosh pit. I would use all the strength in my fingers to pry open the doors with no success. I woult then look into my mother’s eyes and cry.
A group of 5 firemen arrived 25 minutes later. We were stuck in the elevator for a total of 45 minutes. The firemen disconnected the elevator’s power then pried the doors open. We emerged. A crowd of people waited for us. The firemen couldn’t believe how many people were stuck in such a small space together. They said, “No wonder why you got stuck.”