We have been in our new home for about a week. We’re still without hot water but the heat is on and there is heat though I think they have it on low. It is still a bit cold inside.
We had an interesting experience a feew days back. We sent our oldest boy down to get the elevator for us so we could ride down in some style for once and not have to hoof it down the 234 steps to the ground floor. That gets old after awhile, so we sent the fleetest (and most in shape, I might add) down to bring us the elevator. (It was a little like being chauffer driven. That is the point this kind of life can bring you to.) When it got here we stepped on, pushed the button and saw the doors close. The elevator began to move and we were on our way down.
When we got to about the fifth floor--between the fifth and fourth floor as it turned out—the elevator jarred to a stop. When I say jarred, I mean that it was as if it had hit something and hit it hard. The force of the impact made my knees buckle. And the elevator stopped dead.
The first instant, there was a thought that the thing might just drop the rest of the way down. There is really know way to know that it wouldn’t. But that was a split second thought. We soon figured we were stopped cold.
Nothing worked, no buttons lighted up when pushed, no doors came open when we hit the button for it. Nothing worked and we didn’t move. The only thing that would work was the alarm. So we rang it and stood around trying to figure out what to do. Fortunately, the only other ting that worked was the elevator light so we weren’t left to think about it in the dark.
After a few minutes of pushing—actually leaning-- on the alarm button, there was no response. But we could hear some people on the floor above us, the fifth floor, and we called out to them to tell the guard downstairs that we were stuck in the elevator. And we waited some more.
I tried to pry open the door and got it open enough to see that we were between floors. But that is as far as it would go. Apparently, they are made so that you cannot pry them open in transit. That is a good thing-- when you are in transit. But when you are stuck between floors, it doesn’t seem like a good thing.
I even tried the panel on the elevator ceiling to see if it would open. I wouldn’t budge and I couldn’t see any screws to open it. What would we have done if it had opened? I don’t know maybe stick a head out to see what was going on. It was a little too small to get people out of very easily so that was not a real good way. And a lot of people, most especially my wife, would consider it the height of stupidity to even try that sort of thing. (I reserve comment on it.) But it wouldn’t open so we didn’t come to that question.
In the end, after about 40 minutes of waiting, we heard someone on the floor above us working on the door at that level. We heard first that door open and then we heard our door being winched open. What we saw when it was open was a pair of shoes at eye level sitting underneath a pair of pant’s legs. The owner of those shoes was the elevator repairman on the fifth floor. He told us to push a lever and open the door on the fourth floor below us. We did that and the door opened.
I wouldn’t wait for the guy to come down a floor and take us out, which is what he asked us to do. I jumped out and got my wife out as quickly as we could. Our oldest boy got out last. It is a bit unsettling to come through a door of an elevator stuck between floors knowing that the thing is capable of moving and catching you as you are getting out. It is s scene from a movie, I know, and it may be that it is not possible to happen with all the safeguards built in, but the thought is still there. That is why I insisted that we move quickly out when we started to go.
The repairman showed up on the fourth to help us out but we were out already. We of course had some pointed questions to ask him. He explained that there was a lot of dust from all the work that is going on in our building and that that dust, cement dust, had worked its way into the elevator shaft and onto the mechanisms there. That caused the elevator to stick at points and when it was sticking too much, it stopped. He didn’t tell us, but I think that what happened was that the elevator had to work against all that debris and the effort caused a breaker to pop. That turned off the elevator, meaning that the buttons wouldn’t work, and, being between floors, it caused the brakes to come on. That is the reason why it jarred to a stop. It is only a guess mind you. But absent their finding a deer dead in the elevator shaft, I think it is a good one.
The guy told us that we would be better off not riding the elevator. That is probably a good idea, but when my wife and I were out later in the evening, later than the elevator is usually on, and we came back to find someone had left the elevator on, I couldn’t resist taking it up. I told my wife that it was like getting on the horse that bucked you off. When we got to our floor, the doors opened, we kissed the ground and were home.
Later in the evening, the water went off. Cold water is one thing, but no water is quite another thing entirely.