Then My Life Flashed Before My Eyes

I was on my way to the Farmer’s Market.

The elevator was carrying me from my 15th floor apartment when it shuddered to a stop on the 7th floor. I moved to the back, expecting someone to board, only to realize that the elevator doors were not opening. Thinking about how the elevator has stalled before on a floor, I pressed the Door Open button, and my heart stalled. Stopped. Did not tick.

Before my eyes I saw white concrete blocks. Above me was the black metal gate that closes and opens before the actual elevator door does. Below me was a different gate. The elevator had stopped, frozen, between the sixth and seventh floors.

My first thought: I hope I’m not in here long because I didn’t eat breakfast so I’m going to get hungry in about 30 minutes.

I turned and pressed the emergency call button. Nothing lit up. I hit other buttons on the panel and nothing happened. The panel was not functioning. I hit a bell icon that sent out a ringing sound into the Saturday morning quiet, but no voice came over the intercom. No one inside the building cracked a door open.

Then, I began to panic.

I screamed. I hit at the elevator doors. I looked through the black gate and yelled for help in two languages (I was proud of myself there).

My life flashed before my eyes.

Well, really it didn’t.

I thought to myself that God couldn’t have me go out like this. I had actually read The Bible this morning!

I tried prying open the seventh floor gate. I could hoist myself up and clamber through that one (thank you gym work outs).

It didn’t budge.

I wasn’t going to shimmy through the sixth floor gate. I could imagine the elevator beginning to move and my bottom half stuck in the shaft. That would not be a pretty picture.

It reminded me of the man who got stuck between the movable subway platform and a train in Union Square some years back. That movable platform always freaked me out because, in my mind, it shouldn’t have moved. I steered far clear of it in NYC and I was steering clear of that scenario now.

Thankfully, I had my cell in my purse. Usually it’s not a big deal if I have my cell or not because people rarely call or text me. The thing hadn’t been charged in three or four days, but I still had a signal and some charge.

My security guard friend didn’t pick up, my bilingual co-worker who lives on the same street didn’t pick up, an English speaking neighbor acted like it wasn’t a big deal that I was stuck in an elevator since he was at work, and, finally, my sick co-worker who lives in my building answered. I didn’t know she was sick but, let’s be real, I would’ve called her even if I did know.

She went and alerted the security guard at the desk and, from the ground floor panel, he was able to get the elevator to shudder to a start again.

I was most terrified of the elevator free-falling. I could see my legs broken at odd angles when I arrived on the first floor (barely). Broken legs if I was lucky.

I couldn’t die! My grandma would get all of my student loan debt. My mom would try to crawl in the casket with me at the funeral. It would just be a big ‘ol mess. They didn’t have those “this elevator was last inspected” signs in this building. For all I knew, this new looking elevator was a rinky dink mess.

A rinky dink mess with me stuck inside it.

The now-moving elevator took me to the basement parking lot. I didn’t have a key to get out of there. I yelled up to the security guard, but he couldn’t hear me over the TV’s volume. Since I could see the blue sky and clouds, I could laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

I took a DIFFERENT elevator out of the basement and informed him that it was me who had been stuck.

Finally, I told him something along the lines of “thank you for my liberty” because I didn’t know how to say thank you for letting me out. He cracked a smile, his first smile at me since he started working in my building, and I showed him all 32.

I think we’ll be OK and I, slightly traumatized, may be hiking up and down 15 flights.

Ok, maybe not.

BUT, I have decided I don’t want to live higher up than the fifth floor (the same floor I lived on while in NYC). It’s high enough up where I don’t think a burglar would want to hit my apartment, but low enough when the elevators are malfunctioning, or just clogged with people, it’s still feasible for me to take the stairs.

I don’t need the penthouse. Save that for the person who doesn’t mind getting stuck in an elevator on a Saturday morning.

Yet, how long did this whole, life-changing ordeal last?

Ten minutes.

I know. I was in bed the rest of the day because of it.


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