Sunday, March 06, 2011

Not so Pleasant

Last week I went early to my class in Pleasants at Hollins. It was one of those lovely days we'd been having, cool enough for a jacket but warm for the time of year.

I thought I would go into the classroom early and read ahead in the text. I was also looking forward to seeing my classmates and the professor. I am a nerd, yes. I like school.

When I attended Hollins as an undergrad, there was no elevator in Pleasants. I had many classes in this building and trudged those stairs numerous times. Sometime in the 1990s, they installed an elevator and restrooms for the disabled. Frankly, it was a welcome addition.

This is particularly true now, as my class meets on the third floor. Being the aging and overweight woman that I am, I take the elevator.

To be sure, this requires a deep inhalation of breath and a bit of bravery on my part. I do not have an elevator phobia per se, as I will get on them, but I don't like them much. On at least one occasion, I have emerged from an elevator and passed out. Fortunately that was at Roanoke Memorial.

The campus appeared fairly deserted at the hour of my arrival. Few cars graced the parking lot and I saw absolutely no one as I walked to Pleasants. I clenched my bookbag, entered the elevator, and pushed the button for the third floor.

I was thinking about the class ahead and our topic of conversation, Hull House in Chicago in the late 1800s, when the elevator suddenly jerked. It came to an abrupt and startling stop. It felt sickeningly free, as if were swaying. I gripped the railing on my right, trying hard not to panic. The doors did not open.

What should I do now, I wondered. The panel in front of me had a panic alarm. I felt the elevator jerk again. Should I jump and down and hope I was in the air when the thing crashed? Or should I be perfectly still to keep the thing from swaying? I couldn't remember. I thought of my husband as I saw the little emblem of a firefighter's hat on the button panel. What would he tell me to do?

After a few seconds, I realized I wasn't going to hit bottom. Certainly I would have already done so in those few seconds; it couldn't take long to crash three floors. I bit my lip, moved forward, and pushed the button for the third floor. The elevator jerked and swayed once more. Then the doors opened. I am sure I was solid white as I stepped out.

The entire building felt to me as if it were moving - I suppose my equilibrium had been disturbed - and I could barely walk into the classroom. I put my books down and sagged into my chair. A classmate entered and I asked if she'd tried the elevator. She said she had pushed the button but it never came. I told her what had happened to me.

When I saw the professor enter her office, I told her about the incident so she could alert maintenance and have them check the elevator. She said she had been trying to find a working phone as she had been talking to someone and the lines went dead. She had tried to call out again but she had no dial tone. A subsequent call from my cell phone to security indicated the phone lines were all out.

I surmised that there had been either an outage or a power surge while I was in the elevator. Solar flare activity? Car careening into a power pole? No one knew.

Out of order signs went up on the elevator until someone could check it out.

Thank goodness I did not get stuck!


  1. Take the stairs, girlfriend. It's healthier for you and probably less stressful mentally as well.

    Hope you are enjoying our rainy morning! Quite the drippy day.

  2. I'm having a problem with my knee and can't climb the stairs. That's why I am taking the elevator!

  3. I'm so sorry Anita but I had to crack up reading that! Coming from Jersey, I'm very elevator savvy. That power probably went out because it got sucked by your negative energy! lol

  4. Yikes! I don't really care for elevators, but I like them better than stairs.

    Funny story about being stuck in an elevator: My mother is a bit of a prude about some things, especially the idea of being a "cougar." When the thought of a guy younger than her being attractive even crosses her mind, she blushes. She's also got a phobia about being stuck or dropped in an elevator (especially glass ones).

    So, when she hired a Collegiate moving crew of burly twenty-something boys to move her office furniture to her new space, of course she got in the elevator with four of them. And, of course, the elevator got stuck. For four hours. As if they weren't hot and sweaty enough already.

    The great thing was, under normal circumstances she would have been terrified and embarrassed, but the boys kept her laughing and talking. She couldn't have had better company to keep her calm, really. It was rather ironic. She still turns beet red when she tells that story!


  5. Yikes...I actually felt a little woozy myself reading this. I'm not fond of elevators at all. If there are stairs and I'm alone, I'll almost always take them, though I understand why you didn't with a bad knee.

    I used to work in the fifteenth floor of a building, and my co-workers thought I was crazy to take the stairs every day. It seemed to amuse them greatly that I did. :-)

  6. You poor thing! I really don't mind elevators, but I imagine an experience like that would unnerve me. Hope you don't panic next time you have to ride the elevator.

  7. I felt like I was reading something out of a movie script! Maybe a horror movie. Glad you're okay.


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