A while ago my niece was in the Miss Minnesota pageant. I attended the second night of competition with my dad, sister, sister-in-law and our daughters. When we entered the performing arts center we encountered a long flight of stairs. This was problematic. Dad’s balance was precarious and with his walker the steps seemed like a mountain. Not a believer in insurmountable challenges, I scanned the lobby and noticed a door with an elevator sign. I maneuvered dad and our crew through the door which opened into a small room with an elevator.
Unfortunately, our movement did not go unnoticed. A group of elderly followed us into the tiny room. I pushed the ‘up’ button and as the doors opened a surge of people, two with walkers, entered the elevator. Our daughters looked at the group crammed in the small space and said, “We’ll take the stairs.” I depressed the button for the second floor and as we began to move I remember thinking “This would be a bad time to get stuck in an elevator.” And just like that there was a grinding sound, a jerking halt and the lights went out.
Quite honestly my first though was “We are going to die.” My second thought was “I can’t breathe.” My third thought was interrupted by a man saying, “Great, I’m stuck in an elevator with a bunch of strangers.” Thank goodness. This ridiculous comment brought me back to my senses.
Thinking I need to alert someone of our predicament, I fumbled in the dark for the control panel hoping to find the alarm. While I punched many buttons, not one of them was the alarm. Meanwhile, my sister and sister-in-law were rummaging through their purses and soon we were engulfed in the eerie glow of two cell phones. Now we have light. My sister-in-law who is not fond of small spaces bent at the middle and said, “Dear Jesus.” My sister looked at her phone and realizing she did not have any bars began to wave it in the air while saying, “Move back, we need to give her some room.” I backed up and my rear end hit the alarm button and I called out, “I found the alarm!” I pushed the alarm, holding it down for a few seconds and repeated this over and over again. The sound of the alarm was not comforting to any of us and did not provide any assurance that we had been heard.
My sister continued to search for phone reception, my sister-in-law continued to remain bent in the middle. I have no clue what anyone else was doing, except dad, he snorted with laughter. It only took a few minutes but soon the lights flashed on and we began to move. We passed by the second floor. We passed the third floor. We finally came to a stop at the fourth floor. The doors opened into the performing arts center media control room. A young man held up his hands and said, “You can’t get off here, this is the control room.” He was mowed down by 11 people, 2 with walkers.
We stood in the control room. Those who could, went through the control room and descended to the auditorium through another exit. I looked at dad. Going this route would not be easy. The young man in the control room informed us the elevator had stopped because the power had gone out. He said he had heard our alarm. I looked at him and blustered, “Well why didn’t you yell to let us know you heard us!”
Looking at dad I said, “So do you want to chance it?” He nodded and headed back into the elevator. My sister and I followed informing the technician that if he heard any alarms he better let us know that he heard it. Then the doors closed and we descended to the second floor. When we got out our daughters asked, “What took you so long?” As we shared the story the emotions took hold and we could not stop laughing. We were safe. We were on the second floor. We were out of the elevator.
When we got into the auditorium we noticed the long set of stairs that lead to our seats. If it wasn’t for the elevator, I am sure we would have turned around and left. Thankfully, our brother came down from his seat and literally carried us all to our places.
The pageant was a wonderful experience. My niece was fabulous. The impromptu ‘I was stuck in the elevator’ support group meeting at intermission was not to be missed.
After the pageant, my brother informed us we didn’t need to worry about the elevator again because the center has an exit on the second floor that leads to the upper level parking lot. Upper level parking lot? Of course.