Living Editor Alexis Sachdev recounts getting stuck in a 1940 residence hall elevator.
Last Thursday, I was saved. One minute, I was lying on my back, accepting my impending fate. The next moment, bright lights shone onto me as if the Heavens themselves were parting for my arrival. Ethereal “hallelujahs” drowned out my hysterical tears. Glowing white creatures appeared at my weakest moment and lifted me to a better place.
Mandy Moore was there, too. And maybe even Kirk Cameron. Probably Kirk Cameron.
Wait a minute.
I was saved Thursday, but not by Mandy or Kirk. My saviors were shrouded in highlighter yellow windbreakers, and the imagined celestial sounds were actually the cacophonous and frantic screams emitted by the residents of 1940 residence hall. I’m not writing to you from the newsroom in the sky, nor is this a tear-jerking story of one girl’s change of course off of the amoral proverbial road to hell.
But let’s rewind.
After a long day in the office – in 4-inch heels, no less – I begrudgingly limped back to my oatmeal-colored dorm room in 1940. I thought to myself upon entering the building, “your butt needs it, bubala, take the damn stairs,” but couldn’t begin to fathom the four-flight adventure. I imagined a valiant effort, but ultimate defeat. I imagined cursing my shoes, cursing my butt, cursing 1940, cursing all that was good and pure in this world. Elevator it was.
Another girl joined me in the 7-by- 5-foot steel box just before the doors slowly closed. Little did we know they would never re-open for us again.
Just below the fourth floor, the elevator groaned and came to a screeching halt. My elevator-mate and I peered at each other, both faces painted with mixed expressions of disbelief, fear and curiosity regarding our shared need to use the ladies’ room.
Instead of panicking, I did what any East Coast girl would do: pulled out my phone and whined to anyone who would listen. And texted whoever wouldn’t. A more responsible travel buddy, she called an RA, who just so happened to be one working on-duty, and help was finally on its way.
We spent the following two hours how any 20-something would spend an evening in an elevator: reading and doing homework, Tweeting, Facebooking and listening to Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me.” Dialogue on the other side proved to be more interesting, though.
My floormates – bless their kind souls – worriedly called out my name, assured me I’d be getting out soon and formed a giant welcoming group awaiting my arrival.
Social media friends followed suite after my brief stint of live tweeting and “1940 Elevator” check-ins. They held candlelight vigils in my honor and even made me into a meme. But despite everyone’s valiant efforts and constant support, the vague and unnamed engineers took twice as long to release us from imprisonment than we had planned.
Exhausted – and really needing some food and a bathroom at this point – I collapsed onto the floor, a pathetic representation of a good struggle gone bad. Watching “Speed” one too many times taught me the escape hatch was all I needed, but they were wrong. Movies lie, kids.
Just as I was curling into the fetal position, the silver doors parted, letting new light shine in and down on us. One of the nice, unnamed engineers grinned at me before my roommate shoved him aside to cradle me in her motherly embrace. We were free at last.
My floormates surrounded me with blankets and water, assuring me that Occupy Elevator 2012 was done and I would make it through to the end.
Since the incident, I’ve returned to the scene of the crime. The whole ordeal has actually changed my life. That damn elevator still looks at me the wrong way, but I hold my head high. In the wake of tragedy, I’ve formed a new relationship with the stairs and my 4-inch heels.
Alexis Sachdev can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.