I don't think about getting trapped in an elevator every time I get on the elevator, but I think about it most times I get on an elevator. And yesterday, one of my very worst nightmares came true--for two minutes.
Two minutes is long enough! Two minutes is long enough be seized with terror and to size up your lift mate then determine on the spot whether you'd kill him with your bare hands if you had to. Because it might come to that.
I was on my way to work (and early, I might add, feeling all cocksure and responsible) when I swept into the elevators when a girl got off. I pressed 4. It went down to C, the carport, and I kicked myself for not checking to see if the elevator was going up or down. A young man got on the elevator at level C. [I told Beth this story earlier, and she pointed out that old ladies say 'young man.' He was a young man. I stand by this in my walker.]
Then the elevator moved, but then it stopped. Then the display began FLASHING. Then nothing. No movement. No opening of doors. Just the silent flashing of the following:
After about 30 seconds I began to jab wildly at the Open Doors button, even though I've been told by numerous know-it-alls that that button is impotent and does nothing. Still I stabbed at it like a frenzied murderer.
Then the elevator began to ascend, maybe descend, it was hard to tell, because the elevator began to move while still FLASHING the ominous:
"Are we moving?!" The young man had both palms flat against the side of the elevator walls and his eyes bulged from his face.
"I don't knowwwwhatthefuckisgoingon?!?!?," was my approximate reaction.
The quickness with which I began to lose it was astounding. I immediately had trouble breathing and when I realized I might be stuck inside that elevator I knew I couldn't do it. I knew my whole body would shut right down.
I began to have the first inklings of a panic attack.
"I'm freaking out. ARE YOU FREAKING OUT?!" I was pleading with the young man with my eyes to tell me everything was fine.
"Yes. I'm freaking out." He said it as much to himself as to me.
Then, in what seemed like a slow stretch of time, pulled thin like taffy, I kinda lost my shit. Then bam, the doors of the elevator slid open and we were on the 8th floor. My terror-mate and I ran out them.
"This is where I need to be." He said it with such relief.
"Wait! What? No! I have to go back down. I'm going to 4. Don't leave me."
And he laughed. He laughed! We almost died together SECONDS AGO, and already he was laughing.
I mustered up all my strength and got on a very different elevator and went down to 4 and walked into work looking like I'd seen a ghost. It took me a full half hour to recover.
Looking back the saddest part of this entire episode is that I didn't take the stairs down. Didn't occur to me. Besides, I was going to be late.