Monday, December 17th 2007
The Horror. . The Horror...
The night before last somebody managed to get himself stuck in the elevator on my shift, -something which severely restricted the time that I otherwise would have spent reading, investigating the internet ..or starring at the ceiling thinking about the great things that will be when I will finally get the internet linked up to my house (hopefully later this week). With my own blog, my flip-cam to film and post videos on the web and unrestricted access to the internet, I will singlehandedly rock the foundations of the world wide interweb. I will become drunk with power and self-importance, and hopefully before it is all over I will have learned some kind of humbling yet life reaffirming truth, something that might help me to more appreciate each and every moment of this EVANESCENT and unpredictable journey toward our inevidible oblivion.. -?
Do you know the one thing that would be worse than having to pee really bad because you drank too much coffee - but having to wait for one of the other security guards to finish taking a shower upstairs so that they can cover your post in the front lobby - that is surrounded by cameras from every angle making it highly unlikely that you can relieve yourself in one of the nearby potted floral arrangements without being caught on tape? <(Yes, of course it would be having read that incredibly long run-on sentence in one breath.. -?)>. Of course one thing that would be much worse than this would be if you really had to go, but were stuck in an elevator with no way of knowing when you might be set free. And what might be even worse than that would be if you happened to be the president of a company that resided in the same building as the elevator in which you found yourself a captive.. and then you would have to worry about what your colleagues and subordinates might say behind your back about how you relieved yourself in the very same elevator that they use to go to and from their office space every day. Every time they breathe a hint of that heavy musty funk and see that big slightly darkened spot on the elevator floor, they will be thinking of you.
That was this poor mans unfortunate predicament last friday night; four hours stuck in an elevator.. being told every fifteen minutes that it will just be another ''ten minutes or so'' by the firefighters and the security guard on duty whom he was in constant contact with over the elevator intercom/phone. On top of that he had to leave to catch a flight departing at 7am (about four and a half hours after he first got stuck). He said he had been working long hours for weeks on end so that he could take this weekend off and spend it in laguna beach with his wife, but I'm sure at that moment this concern was still secondary to the other more pressing and seemingly inescapable catastrophe that he was confronted with.
About 0230 hrs was when the elevator phone first lit up. I really didn't pay it any mind since usually it is the security officer in the loading dock who responds to alarms and call boxes and what not. A couple of minutes went by and I got a call from Sam, the loading dock security guard who asked me if I could stay on the phone with this guy that was stuck in the 11 elevator and call KONE (the elevator maintenance company) while he called up the fire department. I picked up the elevator phone, hit the cab button to connect me to the elevator he was in and depressed the reciever button so that he could here me talk..
The guy on the other end;
"Yeah.. I'm stuck in the elevator, and first of all I have a flight to catch and second of all I have to use the bathroom, and third I really don't know what you guys are doing to get me out of here."
At this point I was thinking to myself how unbelievably messed up it would be if I just totally lost my cool and started saying.. ''OH MY GOD! You're stuck in the elevator?!! What do we do? How are we gonna get you out?'' But instead I settled for the next best thing, I told him that the fire department was en route and that we were calling the elevator maintence company to get him out of the elevator as quickly as possible..
"Yeah, okay.. well I have a plane to catch, and I really have to use the bathroom."
.. ''Oh really? well, in that case give me one moment.. I'll just push our secret elevator emergency over-ride button and we'll get you get you out of there right away..'' -?
For me the time just flew by and it seemed like both the fire department and the KONE personel were on site almost instantaniously. In reality however (according to the insident log) it took the fire dept about fifteen minutes to arrive and the KONE personel about half an hour - which must have seemed like an enternity to the elevator man trapped inside. I kept him updated, asked him about his vacation, his flight plans etc. and tried to keep his hope alive, but as the minutes trickled by his voice grew more disparaging and anguished. I could hear his every word over the phone, where as he could only hear me over the intercom when I depressed the reciever button on the phone. I don't think he realized that I could hear him though.. I listened as he would call his wife to inform her and keep her updated of his present situation;
''Yeah, I'm stuck in an elevator.. it's not trivial, I'm stuck in an elevator and they don't know when I'll be able to get out.. the only other people in the building are the overnite security guards and I don't think they're really doing anything to get me out .. no, this is serious, what do you want me to do? I'm stuck in an elevator!''
At that point I wanted to remind dood that we had almost a dozen firefighters on scene, two KONE technicians and half the building's engineering staff on their way, but of course interupting him over the intercom would probably have put an end to this most sadisticly entertaining and voyeuristic 'panic room' type thing.. and I didn't want that.
Over the next couple of hours I continued to talk to him trying to keep him updated on what ever progress I knew of. As time went by his voice continued to grow more distressed making it seem to me as though he percieved the situation as growing more and more hopeless. One point while I was talking with him he abruptly blurted out ''Are they going to be able to get me out of here??'' I assured him that this kind of thing happens all the time and that they always find a way to get them out. Then he asked again "Are they going to get me out? Hello??'' - this time it really sounded like he was on the verge of losing it, his voice had lost any sense of composure and then I realised.. I had forgotten to depress the reciever button, and so all he had heard in response to his first question was a terrifyingly ominous silence.
I immediately told him that they would have him out 'any minute' - which *technically* was the truth since it could have been *any* minute at some point in the future when presumably they would eventually succeed in freeing him. He told me then that it had better be any minute because he had to use the bathroom and that 'any minute' he was going to ''explode.'' When he said that I could almost see the beads of sweat forming on his brow, his hair drenched and matted, his teeth clenched. I was thinking that there could be worse things than peeing in an elevator, if he had to go he had to go, what else was he supposed to do? But later I would learn that his predicament was actually something far more alarming and distressing than anything I had been contemplating at that moment. To me verbs like ''explode'' refer to No. 1, if you really have to pee you'll usually say; ''Man, I'm going to explode'' or ''Jesus Christ I'm gonna burst'' .. Metaphors that describe contents under pressure however are usually not chosen to refer to the No. 2. In this case usually people will often be much more explicit and say ''Damn, I really have to take a ****'' or ''Oh my God, I'm going to **** my pants if I don't find a restroom...'' etc.
One of the fire fighters came over and asked me if he could speak to the guy, I handed him the phone and the fireman explained that there was one last thing they wanted to try and if that didn't work they would have to come down the elevator shaft and open the emergency roof access panel to get him out.. -but that this was a 'last resort'. The elevator man obviously didn't like this one bit and had something to say about it, to which the firefighter responded that yes, he understands that this has been a significant ordeal - but that they needed to try all of the safest methods of extracting him before they resorted to going to down through the elevator shaft. And with that he handed back the phone with the elevator guy still shouting on the other end. When I put the phone to my ear I heard what I thought was the pitter patter sounds of relief, hearing that actually made me feel relief for him too since I also had to pee but was unable to do so for several hours since I had to remain on the phone with him, but it sounded to me like he was far more pressed and in a far more comprising situation. If worse came to worse I could always sneak behind one of the lobby plants near the front desk to conceal my deed, plants soak up water and the black polished stones overlying the peat moss would most likely have concealed any stench. But there was no way that he could have done his business without there being a massive puddle soaking into the elevator carpet, and being an enclosed space the odor was sure to linger. But it was all over now, he wasn't suffering anymore (or so I believed).
I put the phone down for a few minutes out of respect and to give him a few moments of virtual privacy, I know how some people are urinationally retentive if they think other people might be listening, and also I really didn't need to hear that -- especially since I was still pressed and in need of restroom break myself.
When I picked the phone back up the elevator man didn't seem to have regained his morale any, he was on the phone with his wife telling her how ''he didn't think he was going to make it'' and that ''she should go on without him'' he also was telling her how they were going to be pulling him out from the elevator shaft and that he didn't think there was even an elevator access panel in the roof; ''..all I see is lights, there's no emergency hatch, they're going to need to cut me out of here, they're going to need a torch or something.'' The most disturbing thing was that it seemed as though she was actually going to go ahead and catch the flight without him, because the next thing he said was ''okay, okay yeah.. have fun.'' I tried to just imagine how his spouse could agree to proceed with her trip to california while her husband remained stranded inside an elevator .. possibly indefinitely, who knows? At that moment all I could think was; Wow.
Another hour had passed and still no progress, the elevator had not budged. I listened over the radio as the KONE guys and the building engineers working in the machine rooms issued orders to power on and off the 11 cab and nothing I heard indicated that they had achieved success of any kind. Eventually the fire lieutenant came over to speak with the elevator man. He explained that the only way they could access his elevator would be to lower another adjacent elevator down beside his, then they would need to climb onto the top of his elevator, remove the roof and secure him with a harness so that they could pull him out. Elevator man didn't like that. The fire lieutenant went on to explain that; No, they couldn't just pry open the doors because his elevator got stuck between floors and that this was the safest way to get him out. And then continued; ''Well sir I don't operate the elevators, my job is to get people out safely when an elevator malfunctions..''
Fifteen minutes later they had managed to dislodge the roof and had disconnected the intercom in the elevator, and that was the last I ever spoke with elevator man. As soon as they got him free and released him back into the outside world he bolted - through the lobby and out the revolving doors, never stopping to thank me, or giving me a chance to congratulate him on his safe and successful liberation. I thought that maybe we had bonded over that 3 + hour harrowing ordeal, I thought maybe he'd show a little more gratitude to the guy who stayed on the line (for the most part) and talked him through it. We were in this together, - but as soon as he was released I returned to just being the ''security guard'' and he was once again elevated to what ever status that being the head of some important company afforded him. Oh well, c'est la vie. I'm just glad he got out.. sort of.
Of course when I came back to work Saturday afternoon every body on the shift was talking about what had happened during the overnite. It was then that my buddy Eddi told me that the elevator guy had left me a ''surprise'' on the 28th floor where coincidentally the disabled elevator was left after being taken out of service. ''Oh god.. oh god no'' was all I could say. ''Yeah, man" Eddi told me "it looks like a ****ing horse took a **** up there -- I will NEVER take that elevator again.''
''No, that elevator is evil'' I said, ''there is some bad voodoo in that elevator'' .. ''some baaad doo-doo voodoo''