Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stuck in an elevator

The one thing that frightens me in a building is, elevator. Particularly, the automated one. Not that the old fashioned manual ones, that you dont find these days, didn't frighten me. But, atleast there you had more functions of the elevator, like opening and closing the door, under your complete control. Whenever I use an elevator, nightmarish thoughts like, "What will happen if I get stuck in the elevator for several hours? Will I be overwhelmed by claustrophobic feelings? Will I survive in the lift without food for hours?" never cease to cross my mind. Because of such apprehensions, I had hardly used the lift until I joined my engineering college.

Even in my engineering college, initially, I used the lift very rarely. But somehow I concealed my fears. After some time, due to sheer laziness to climb the stairs, I started to make use of the lift despite my innumerable fears about it.

For three years, my fears about the lift hadn't come true. So with only a couple of months remaining for my engineering course to complete, I had thought that these fears wont come true in my college. This was significant considering the fact that the lifts in our college (there are 4 of them) dont work properly all the time. But last month, the unthinkable happened, albeit in a smaller proportion.

On that evenful day, we (three of us - myself and my friends Guru Anandh and Satish) entered the lift in the fourth floor. This was a lift that was not in the operational mode very often. But that didnt deter us. As soon as we got in, I made sure that the lift would stop in all the floors that we would come across on our way to the ground floor by pressing the relevant keys for all the floors.

Unlike the Cyrius Cybernetics Corporation elevators, this one obediently stopped as expected in the third floor. Since no one was willing to use the services of the elevator at that instant of time in the third floor, we closed the door and proceeded downwards. Strangely, it didn't stop in the second floor. It started moving to its next stop - first floor. At this point, Guru (not me, my friend) wondered aloud, "What if the power goes off now?".(He just told this in a lighter vein, not out of any fears of the kind that I have). As soon as he finished saying this, the power went off. We were three fourths of the way down from the second floor to the first floor. The lift stopped since the generator wasn't turned on that day. The inner door of the lift was half-opened (though you will see only one door opening when it is functioning normally) with the outer one in the background closed fully. Fortunately, there was a small gap between the outer doors that was sufficient to communicate with the outer world. The upper part of the inner door was covered by the wall. To say that this was a frightening situation for me, would be an understatement. My legs were trembling. My heart was pounding in a way that it had never done before.

But the other two in the lift, far from panicking were amused at being stuck in a lift. My panic only added to their amusement. This, needless to say, added to my tension.
Anyway, all of us started screaming for help. Because of the strange position of the lift, not many realised that it was stuck. Finally someone came to our rescue. He called the lift operator who was conspicuous by his absence till now. By this time we had managed to open the inner doors completely by pressing the key normally used to open the door in toatlity. The lift operator, then did as simple a thing as turning a screw to open the two halves of the outer door completely. The sense of relief that the opened doors brought to me is something that cannot be described.
Since the lift was stuck quarter of a distance from the first floor, we had to jump out of the lift onto the floor below that was at a short distance. With this final act performed, this whole drama, that lasted for about ten minutes, came to an end. But its memory will remain with me for a long time to come.


Arjun Sharma said...

Hmm, this was one of your nightmares come true, I suppose? You're right, death-like feelings can attack you when you're stuck in a lift.

And that would be 'Sirius' Cybernetics Corporation, not 'Cyrius.'

I'd have liked to see you guys get out of the lift, though. Three fully grown men crawling through a small space and jumping on to the floor!

Harish said...

'Sirius' was mistakenly typed as 'Cyrius'.

The author regrets the mistake.

Harish said...

Arjun, by the way we did not have to 'crawl through a small space' since there was sufficient space to stand comfortably and then jump onto the floor.