Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Three Floors Up
I got stuck in an elevator tonight. I'm not one for clausterphobia (except in an MRI machine, those things are traumatic!) or panic...but I will readily admit that that when my elevator jolted to a halt tonight, dropped 6 inches, and then shook from side to side, panic would be a mild way of describing how I felt. I've been stuck in elevators before, but always in the U.S. Tonight, I had fabulous chinese food (first chinese restaurant I've found since moving to Kuwait!) with a work friend, and then got dropped off at my apartment complex. I walked in and said hi to the harris (arabic word for the building maintenance guy who spies on us and reports any unseemly activity to the building owner) and hit the elevator button. I strolled into the metal cage, and hit 9. As the doors closed, I realized that my keys weren't in their normal place in my purse, so I put down my bags and crouched down to dig through my bag. I was somewhere between the umbrella (yes, I know it only rains twice a year in Kuwait, but when it comes down it's like mud raining down on your head!), my overstuffed wallet, and my ipod when the elevator shuddered to a halt, dropped half a foot, and then rocked gently in the emptiness. I looked up and realized that all of the little number lights had been extinguished. I tried to figure out if I was closer to the ground floor or to the 9th floor, and then suddenly thought about the fact that there is no way Kuwait enforces the same standards of elevator safety as I might find in America. Then I had one of those moments...you know the ones where your life flashes before your eyes? Well, there was no flashing, but there were horrendous images of my mangled body lying at the bottom of an elevator shaft where no one would find me...plummeting in a shodily-constructed elevator in a shodily constructed building in a shodily constructed neighborhood in the middle of Kuwait. This is not how I want to die. Well, I proceeded to frantically start pushing every button on the elevator, but to no avail. I then pushed the panic button, which rang but did nothing to bring my knight in shining armor (the previously mentioned spying harris). I then yanked out my cell phone and called my landlord, but got a message in Arabic saying that the number has been disconnected. With increasing fear, I decided to call the friend who had just dropped me off. The conversation went something like this: "D, I'm stuck in an elevator! Stuck in an elevator! I'm stuck in an elevator! I can't get out! No one is coming to help! Help! I'm stuck in an elevator!" Just as I was about to keep babbling my eloquent monologue, there was another jolt and the lights suddenly came back on, indicating I was on the third floor. I stupidly stabbed 9 again (who ever heard of trying to go up to the 9th floor in a broken elevator rather than going back down to the ground???). The elevator shook it's way up and the doors opened and I stepped off. Both elevators read "out of service"...thanks for the warning people! I debated walking back down the 9 flights to report the problem to the harris, but decided that communicating my terrifying experience to a non-English speaking harris who mostly just stares at me like an alien from another planet was not on my list of fun activities for the night, so I walked into my apartment, locked the door, and figured that the elevators will probably be working by tomorrow. The end.