Hey folks, this post is going to be longer than usual, so you might want to grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and sip while I vent.
I have lived in this high-rise apartment building for twelve years and the elevator situation here has been faulty for NINE of those years.
They seem to work for a week then break down for a couple of days. They work for another week then break down for a couple of days.
And this is constant.
One never knows if the elevators will work in this building or not.
We have two passenger elevators and one freight elevator that is used for either moving people in and out of the building, or used by those tenants who have a bicycle to transport back and forth to their apartment.
And thank god we have three because if one breaks down, we at least have two remaining.
But I have to interject here that three weeks ago, TWO of the elevators broke down at the same time; therefore we only had ONE working – for 250 apartments!
Now in the twelve years that I have lived here, I’ve been fortunate to have never gotten stuck INSIDE the elevator when it broke down. But I know many other tenants who have.
Um…that is until last Tuesday.
Picture this scene:
I had just walked home from the grocery store while carrying THREE bags of food in this atrocious heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing this summer, so that by the time I got back to my apartment building I was utterly wiped out; ready to collapse.
I got into one of the elevators with a young lady who pressed the #9 button, and then I pressed #21.
The elevator door closed and we rose to the 9th floor.
She got out.
The door closed again and the elevator began ascending to the 21st floor.
When suddenly it STOPPED.
So I pressed my floor button again but nothing happened.
I pressed it once more.
Okay, this when I suddenly started screaming delicate OBSCENITIES.
You know the obscenities I’m talking about, right?
The ones that start with the letter F and end with the letters UCK.
Yessiree…I said A LOT of those.
It finally happened. I GOT STUCK IN THE ELEVATOR.
And after hyperventilating for about a minute, I grabbed my hair and slapped myself across the face, saying, “Okay Ron…get a grip. It’s not the end of the world. I mean what’s the worst that could happen, the cable could snap and you could CRASH TO YOUR DEATH???”
I started ringing the emergency bell but got no response.
I then saw a button on the panel labeled push-to-talk.
So I pressed the button and could hear a phone dialing and then ringing. The intercom system in the elevator goes to the security guard downstairs who sits at the front desk.
Suddenly I heard, “Hello…can I help you?”
“YES! YES! HELP! I’M STUCK IN THIS FRIGGIN’ ELEVATOR AND I CAN’T GET OUT! PLEASE HELP ME! AND IT’S HOTTER THAN HELL IN HERE! HURRY!”
Yet the doorman responded in the most lackadaisical and nonchalant voice, “Well sir…I’ll see if I can do something.”
“NO! NO! Don’t SEE if you can do something. DO something! I’m stuck in here with NO AIR CONDITIONING and THREE BAGS of groceries that are MELTING FAST.”
Again he said, “Well sir…I’ll see if I can do something.” Then hung up.
This is when I took my middle fingers and gestured them at the push-to-talk button.
I was both scared and livid.
So I waited. And waited.
I waited for what seemed like the time it takes for a woman to have a baby – 9 ½ months.
I then started frantically pressing all the floor buttons on the elevator panel in the hopes it would somehow start the elevator again.
No such luck.
I began pacing back and forth. And do you know how hard it was to pace in a space that is slightly bigger than a telephone booth? I basically turned in CIRCLES.
Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I pressed the push-to-talk button again and heard someone answer the phone. But this time it was a woman – the property manager.
I said, “Excuse me, but is anyone doing ANYTHING about getting me out of this elevator? It’s been almost fifteen minutes already and no one has communicated anything to me.”
She said, “Yes, don't worry, I called someone from maintenance and they should be here soon.”
I responded, “Well could you please tell them to HURRY because it’s hotter than HELL in here.”
So I waited. And waited.
I then heard noise on the other side of the elevator, as if someone was trying to PRY the door open. They kept prying and prying, but the door wouldn’t open.
Then a voice said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to get the door open.”
I yelled, “OH THIS IS GREAT. JUST GRRRRRRRRRREAT!”
He said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to call the fire department and have them come over to get you out.”
“The FIRE DEPARTMENT?!?!?!”
“Yes, they should be here soon, don’t worry.”
Don't you LOVE how everyone tells you NOT TO WORRY?
I somehow felt like a cat caught in a tree.
So I waited. And waited.
Finally I heard LOUD voices coming from the other side of the door, “Don’t worry, we’re the fire department and we’ll get you out.”
I heard bang! bang! bang! Then I saw what looked like a HUGE metal crowbar being shoved into the crack of the door. Then I saw another crowbar; then another crowbar. There were THREE crowbars prying the door open.
It was like being in a DISASTER movie!
All of a sudden I began to smell smoke and thought, “Shit…the elevator is on fire!”
The smell was so intense I thought I was going GAG.
I thought, “Well, if it is a fire, I can always take the quart of milk from my grocery bag and splash it all over the FLAMES.
And it was at that point the elevator door FLEW open!
And as I looked straight ahead, I saw five firemen staring straight back at me standing there holding three bags of soggy groceries and sweating to death.
I shouted, “THANK YOU! THANK YOU! GENTLEMEN!!!!!”
Then I JUMPED out of the elevator and wanted kiss them all, but didn’t dare.
But I did say, “Hey I smell smoke, where is that coming from?”
One of the firemen replied, “Well you see, that’s why they call us FIREmen - we tend to have smoke smell all over our gear.”
I smiled, “Duh, right…silly me.”
Anyway folks, I FINALLY got out of the elevator…thanks to the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Thank you again, gentlemen. You ROCK!
Epilogue: And just to let you know. For this horrendous experience of being trapped in a hot elevator for over thirty-five minutes, I ROYALLY bitched and complained to the CEO of this apartment company for how hazardous these elevators are and that something has GOT to be done immediately, or I will find a way to report them for safety standards.
And the result?
One: They will be installing a whole NEW elevator system starting in September.
Two: I got them to give me a TWO year lease on my next renewal with NO price increase in my rent.