22 June 2021 – Stuck in an Elevator

NOTE: This was originally posted on my old blog on 22 June, but I made the transition to a new blog and ported this post over.

It finally happened – got stuck.

My SO and I just got home from a long drive and made our way to the elevator to get to our floor from the parking garage. We pressed the button to call the elevator and once it arrived, we got in. Once inside, we pressed our floor and noticed the light wasnt turning on to indicate our selection. While the main lights were on, the terminal was off, and none of the buttons were registering. My SO tried telling me to grab the door, but before I registered what she had said, it shut.

We tried pressing the door open button – nothing. We tried pressing any of the other floors – nothing. Door was closed and there was no way of getting out from our current state.

To get out, we needed to grab someones attention who could either end up contacting an elevator mechanic, or the fire department which would have the right tools. We first tried using the elevator phone. No one picked up.

We checked our phones to try and call our super. I didnt have our supers number, but thankfully my SO did; and while they didnt have signal, I barely had a bar (again – we were still in the basement at this point). While I was holding my phone up as high as I could to try and get signal, I figured we could also use the bell to get someones attention.

My SO made a point that if someone hears random ringing from the elevator, theyll most likely think its some random kids playing with the bell. I agreed, so I suggested using Morse Code and sending “SOS”. Bbuutt the counter argument was that it probably sounds like random noises to a lay-person.

I am genuinely curious for those reading this article, without looking it up: Do you know what Morse Code is? Do you think you would recognize a morse code message if you heard it? And do you know / would recognize the SOS morse code signal?

We evemtually got a hold of our super and said “{Address} – We’re stuck in the elevator”. I specifically put our location first and immediately said our issue as I wasnt sure how strong the signal was, and how long it would last. They said they would send someone over and ended the call.

We werent sure how long it was going to be, so we started to settle in. Put down our bags, pet the dog, and reminisced on the good ol’ days outside of the elevator life. But before we had to decide on a poop-corner, the elevator restarted itself.

The terminal started a boot sequence showing some status messages on a black background with white text. Then eventually started showing the current floor number like normal. It immediately started climbing, so we picked the next immediate floor to get off. It ended up being near the top of the building, but we opted to take the stairs to our floor.

Overall, the whole ordeal took about 20 min.

I think we did pretty well for the situation we were in. We werent stuck an uncomfortable amount, and we didnt descend into madness. As a general habit, I try to think of “How could I have done better” when in these kinds of situations. In this case:

  1. Make sure that the elevator is working before climbing in. Maybe leave a foot in the doorway until I’ve confirmed it looks right? But in reality, for all the times I’ve used an elevator, I think 1 or 2 incidinces out of 25 years is a good track record. By the time this happens again, I’ll probably drop the habit.
  2. Make sure I have emergency contacts programmed onto my phone. I didnt have the supers number nor any neighbors. If I wasnt with my SO or wasnt able to reach her, I would have had to resort to 911. We werent in an actual emergency, but I would have had no one else to call in the local area that could help.