Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Scary Elevator of Doom or Mom, Don't Read This One

Anyone who knows me pretty well knows that I have some odd phobias. I'm afraid of birds, mostly pigeons, but any type of bird can make me flinch. I have an uncomfortable-ness with trains. I also hate crowds/strange people touching me, to the point where I will avoid them if at all possible. I am also claustrophobic to the point that the movie Devil scared the daylights out of me simply because it took place in an elevator, not by any horror-making "genius" of M. Night Shyamalan or the makers of the flick.
So with all these fears, one may ask why I chose to live in NYC...well that's another story.

This story, as you make have alreay guessed by the title is about my clausterphobia meeting my dislike of elevators. I work in Manahattan in a building (which will remain nameless/address-less to protect my co-workers' privacy and my job) with about 17 floors. This building has elevators, as do most buildings in Manhattan with more than 4 floors. Also, like many buildings in Manhattan, my building is quite old (pre-WWII), as are the elevators in it. I've always noticed that the elevators in my building seemed small for a building so tall with so many employees, but I guess elevators were smaller in the 1930's. I've also noticed that the elevators in my building seemed a little "shuddery" when going up the shaft (heh heh). I always tried to just shrug these off as "quirks" in the building and just dealt with the minute of uncomfortableness that would begin and end each of my work days. That is, until December 12th.

December 12th, 2011, around 9AM, my co-corker (for privacy, we'll call her Candy) and I had already arrived at work and gotten settled at our desks for what would probably be a quiet work day. Then we both decided we wanted a snack. My office doesn't have a snack machine, but there is a resonably-priced bodega in the lobby of our building, so we decided to go grab some goodies. The elevator ride down was without incident. We grabbed some snackies and got back into the 6th elevator car to return to the 9th floor. There were 2 other people in the car with us, both got out on the 6th floor. Then things got disturbing. The elevator moved upwards to the 7th floor, then to the 8th floor. The elevator car then shuddered violently and paused for 10 seconds. Candy and I looked at each other with mild concern. I pushed the alarm button, but it made no sound. The elevator car dropped suddenly and violently. Maybe it fell 2 feet or maybe it fell 10 feet, I can't say for sure, but I do know that elevators that are not labeled Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are NOT supposed to fucking do that!

I had never felt such suffocating fear in my life. The elevator lurched up and down several more times, Candy wimpered and squeezed my arm, I frantically pushed the alarm button and tried to remember how to breathe again. The elevator finally shuddered to a stop after skipping our floor on the 10th floor of our building. We both practically fell out of the elevator with relief and nearly in tears. We scrambled into the unknown office on the 10th floor and begged and pleaded with their receptionist to allow us access to use their stairs to go down one flight, because all be damned, we we not getting back in that elevator. Her response: "We don't allow access to the stairs for security reasons. Sorry." (She clearly did not realize that to get into the elevator and up to the 10th floor in the first place we had to go past building security). Both of us shaking like poodles in the winter, we begrudgingly got into a different elevator car to ride down one level.

Upon exiting into our office I stormed up to our receptionist and frantically asked her to call building management about an elevator incident.

Later that day, when leaving my building, I checked with the security man at the front desk to inquire if my complaint had been logged. When I asked about it, he looked at me like a deer in headlights. He had no idea what I was talking about. Awesome. Good job on those communication skills building management. I reiterated my complaint to the security guard.

Two days later THIS happened. (Note: for those who may be sensitive like me DO NOT read this article I linked to. It's sad and horrifying. You've been warned.) Two days after the Madison Ave elevator accident, I discovered that the elevator company in charge of maintainence in that building is also the company that does maintainence in MY building, as well as most elevators in Manhattan. Fucking fabulous. I promptly filed a complaint with the BBB about my building management (who had yet to follow up with me about the 2 complaints I had made about the elevator).

To say the least, I have been living in fear of elevators-all elevators-since. The daily anxiety is overwhelming in itself, but then to add on top of that the fear of dying everytime I need to go somewhere, this is no way to live.

Update: 1/3/12-Tip of the day: I always heard people joking about the BBB growing up, but damn, they mean business! You want something solved (especially a safety concern) you send those guys an e-mail! The office building manager called me the other day to apologize for the way things were handled. She also assured me that safety is their top concern, blah, blah, blah. Some other bullshit about who their independent inspector says that sometimes the elevators "jump" because they are old and leveling out. (WTF?! Seriously? I'm not 10, and I don't believe in Santa Clause so why are you selling me this bat shit?) Whatever. Point is, I scared them enough to call me. It made me feel like I got some power back.

Update: 3/1/12-I'm still extremely nervous about all elevators. The elevators in my building, especially, still scare the crap out of me. Thankfully, there have been no more "jumping" incidents.

Boyfriend and I actually went to Disney World in January and he coaxed me into going on the Tower of Terror. I didn't love the idea, but I was hoping that if I rode it, it would cure my phobia.


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