Good Morning Claustrophobics,
I had a day from hell yesterday. It was an abnormally humid day for Denver and the ‘Front Range’ but all in all felt reasonably refreshed after happy hour. I had been putting off doing laundry to the point of going ‘Commando’ so it was either buy another package of underwear, or buck up and pack laundry to the basement.
One of the more compelling reasons I moved to an apartment building across the street is because it has an elevator! To most fit and healthy people negotiating a couple flights of stairs is no big deal and perhaps part of an exercise routine. But for me, someone with severe Osteoarthritis with zero cartilage in my left knee…stairs represents pain.
Having just crammed my laundry in a much too small machine, I returned to the apartment and finished watching the “Big Salad” episode of Seinfeld while consuming a magic brownie. I never tire of the re-runs but it was time to retrieve my delicates.
I stepped outside and the skies were dark and the wind kicked in gathering steam for one of Colorado’s most endearing traits; the late day summer storm. It could be 98° and stifling hot but for an hour or so usually around dusk it gets electric, cool, and often times wet; a brief respite from the heat!
I removed my load from the washer and shoved it into a more accommodating dryer and cranked it up. I could hear thunder and lightning crackling directly above me so I stood there a few minutes to enjoy the light show.
I’m guessing the building was built in the 70’s and suspect the elevator was installed about the same time. There is no inspection certificate and the shaking and squealing emanating from the lift sounds like a tortured puppy. I was nearly at the end of my 5 second ride when an ear piercing thunder bolt struck a transformer immediately shutting down the elevator. Power was out in a six block radius…..
After five minutes of bewildered disbelief I assessed my tiny prison cell telling myself to remain calm because realistically I’d probably spend a minimum of two hours in this hell. I tried to get comfortable but with each passing minute the stagnant air became heated causing shallow breathing. My cell phone was in my apartment, and to make things worse the magic brownie kicked in hard!
The outage must have disturbed a family of rats or mice. I say this because I could hear them darting about scuffling with each other, causing debris and probably rat fecal matter to rain down on me. In my paranoiac state I frantically tried to brush the mystery matter out of my hair thinking “Why is this happening to me?”
That’s when I noticed the red emergency button. Every elevator I’ve ridden has one but never thought I’d have to use one. Another unholy anointing showered on my head so I pushed the button. Digital dialing through what must have been a minute of routing from one place to another when at last a woman’s voice spoke to me. “Are you alright” she asked, “I’m fine….but I’d really like to get out of this elevator” I said in frustration.
I gave her the details as to address etc…, and if I’m not mistaken she said “Good luck Mr. Phippen,” not exactly filling me with confidence.
Without knowing exactly how much time had passed since my call for help, I was overjoyed to hear sirens as it had to be my rescuers had arrived. Yes Denver’s finest showed up with a full crew and the big hook and ladder pumper truck. Banging on the elevator door they asked me if I was okay and within a few minutes I felt the refreshing air fill my would-be coffin and simply stepped up a foot to freedom.
As an unintended consequence I’m now and will forever be referred to as “The elevator dude” and have become a bit of a celebrity at the building. I’ve been there 11 days and as I told my new admirers “ I always like to make a grand entrance.”
It was an old rickety elevator in an old building….but the system worked flawlessly! Jeez…