This happened on Tuesday, 1/23/2007*

I got trapped in the elevator at work for 3 minutes while trying to leave the office.

I am fine and despite momentary trauma, which persisted a few hours after getting home, I have mostly forgotten about it. But now I shall give you a play-by-play so I can re-live the horror and terror.

As we know from previous posts on my blog, the elevators in my building can be a little temperamental.

Sometimes when the parking lot is crowded, you have to leave your keys with the attendant so they can stack park the vehicles. As I was leaving the office last night around 6:30, I went down to the main receptionist’s floor to retrieve my keys. Unfortunately for me, the keys had not been delivered yet and were probably still down in the parking lot.

I had my jacket in my arms, a bag of food in one hand, my purse in another, and was dragging my (ok, it’s actually yoshi’s) rolling laptop case with me (my hundreds of pages of reading was inside). I got back into the elevator and pushed the button for my parking level, hoping to get down there before the attendants got into the elevator to come UP with my keys. (I hate criss-crossing them and having to come back up for my keys.)

The elevator doors closed and I found myself staring at the Captivate screen’s news headlines. About 30 seconds later, I realized the elevator wasn’t moving. Talk about a captive audience.

I pushed the parking level button again and it didn’t light up; I was hoping that the elevators were on “night mode” and that it would automatically take to the 1st floor lobby. Except I still wasn’t moving. So I pushed the “L” button and nothing happened.

Then I started pushing the “Door Open” button. The doors did not open.

The floor indicator display still indicated I hadn’t moved.

So I pushed the button for the floor that I was on.

Nothing still.

Then I started pushing all the buttons. None of them were lighting up and I still wasn’t moving. Clearly, the elevator had decided to take a break with me inside it.

I wondered how long I should keep pushing buttons until I called for help. With the knowledge that several co-workers had gotten stuck in the elevator in the past several weeks in the back of my head, I figured I should call for help.

I pushed the “Call” button and the red light lit up. (HOORAY!) Then I could hear the speakerphone turn on and do an automated dialing sequence. Then I could hear the call getting transferred. By this time, about 3 minutes had passed.

Then the phone connected to an operator who asked why I was calling.

“I’m stuck in the elevator!” I screamed at her.

At that moment, the doors magically opened. My inadvertent hero was my co-worker D who had awakened the elevator gods by pushing the down button from the floor I was on.

I know I was only in there for like 3 minutes, but it was 3 very unhappy minutes. And when the doors opened I clearly had a panicked look on my face because D was like “Are you ok?”

Meanwhile the elevator operator lady was also talking to me.

I was really confused for a split second because D and I work on a different floor and I thought that the elevator had gone up to our floor and I didn’t feel it. Then I realized that D must have also come looking for his keys at the main receptionist desk and that I really hadn’t moved.

I yelled a very unintelligible, “The doors opened, I’m getting out!” and I ran out of the elevator with all my stuff, with the elevator operator lady getting worried because she had no idea what I was saying. “Are you there? Are you ok?” she kept saying. To be fair, I’m pretty sure what I actually yelled was, “Doors! Open! Out!” I may or may not have also yelled, “Bye!”

D and I stood in the elevator area for a while and we realized the elevator wasn’t moving and the lady was still trying to talk to me. D went inside (while I held the door open) and said, “The doors opened, it’s ok.”

The elevator operator lady’s direction to us was “Ok, good. Don’t get back in the elevator.”

Thanks for that advice, lady. I’m way ahead of you on that one.

We tried to call for another elevator, but then the defective one stayed open and none of the other elevators would stop. So D decided to go back in and push buttons. Miraculously, the light for the first floor lit up for him and he jumped out of the elevator car. Then we called for a different elevator car and got on the next one that showed up.

On the way down, we were talking about what happened and people from some of the other companies that work in the building started chiming in with “I keep hearing about people getting stuck in these elevators.” (Funny, there’s no mention of broken elevators at the NBS Building on Studio 60…)

We had to go all the way down to the first floor and then change elevators to access the parking levels since the elevators were now on “night mode.” Luckily, our keys were still downstairs when we got there and we could leave right after that.

D said it best when he said, “They make it really hard for us to leave this building, don’t they?”

People have suggested that I take the stairs and I would totally do it except that the parking levels are inaccessible via the stairs (they are locked). I can either go down the stairs to the 7th floor and take the elevator down to the parking level (not a good idea because I tried this several times and the elevators were full by the time they got down to the 7th floor) or I can take the stairs to the street level and end up OUTSIDE THE building, re-enter the building and take the elevator up to the parking level (no thanks, I’d really like to minimize my time on the streets of Hollywood at night, thankyouverymuch). Either way, taking the stairs is extremely inconvenient. And if I have a lot of stuff or a heavy rolling bag, the stairs are probably not a good idea. And I happened to be wearing high heels, too.

The point is that so long as I’m working in this building, I’m pretty much stuck taking the elevators.

At least I wasn’t really trapped in the elevator; it wasn’t broken, and it didn’t fall while I was in there. If it that had actually happened, maybe I could’ve scored myself a $20 gift card at The Coffee Bean. For what it’s worth, I’ll take not being trapped. And I don’t drink coffee anyway.

Regardless, I’m thinking it might be a good idea for me to leave an offering or two to the elevator gods from time to time.

*But I wrote it on 1/24/07.

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