LOUISE: Rescued

I have a friend who is so terrified of getting stuck in an elevator that she refuses to get on one alone, even though she has never had such an experience. I have! Twice! The first time was after checking into the hospital to give birth to my youngest son. A nurse wheeled me into the waiting car with my husband, Carl following and pushing the proper button. The elevator whooshed up to the floor and stopped but no doors opened. The nurse casually remarked that they were having problems with that elevator and she should have taken a different one. Agreed! But being in early labor I wasn’t concerned. However, my husband’s face registered panic. He was never a calm, expectant daddy. With our first son, we ended up on a one-way street going the wrong way en route to the hospital. Thankfully there was no midnight traffic. With our second son, Carl bolted out of bed at my announcement of needing to get to the hospital and grabbed his shirt and cigarettes (a habit he broke) and was ready to escort me to the car until I reminded him he might want to grab a pair of jeans. So here we were, baby number three and stuck in an elevator.

Suddenly the calm broke as the nurse began banging and kicking the elevator doors. Carl acted in kind, whacking every button on the control panel. In minutes the doors opened and the nurse reclaimed her composure, wheeled me into the hallway and announced that she wasn’t really worried. Sure! As it was, there was really no rush. I would wait 18 hours for this last son to arrive.

Our second demise with an elevator was much more dramatic but thankfully no baby on the way so I had a calm and helpful husband. We attended a concert at the old, OKC Civic Center and were proceeding down the walkway from the balcony. With new shoes rubbing blisters on my feet, I voted to ride. A bad choice! Inside, the young lady operating the old fashioned lift got the car moving but it suddenly jolted to a halt. No doors whooshed open. She tried again. Nothing. She used the antiquated phone to call for help but no answer (no cell phones in those days). Almost in tears, she confessed it was her first day on the job. A teenage girl in the back started to cry and said she was going to be sick.

“Oh, please don’t be sick!” was everyone’s sentiment. About half of our passengers were teenagers. One felt the Civic Center should supply pizza when we were rescued. Another contributed, “I sure hope there isn’t a fire!” Okay, now I’m getting nervous and am glad I’m in front—more air.

Carl and another gentleman removed the top panel of the elevator and managed to see outside the car and confirm we were stuck between floors. Time passed and the noise outside the elevator diminished. People had gone home. Finally, after half an hour, the Fire Department came to our rescue, forcing open the steel doors of the floor above us then putting a ladder down into the elevator through the opening of that top panel. One by one we climbed up the skinny steps then grabbed a fireman’s hand who helped us “leap” from the top of the elevator car through the open doors to a safe landing. It was a scene right out of the movies. One I don’t wish to repeat. I gladly took off my shoes and walked barefoot down the path on which Carl and I had started before taking the detour.

Today, it still gives me pause to board an elevator and I never do so without my cell phone. I just hope reception can reach inside that cubicle if I ever need help since my courageous husband, my knight in shining armor, is no longer here to help rescue me.

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