The other day I went to a fashion event in the city. I parked my car in a multi-story car park, and made my way to the event. It was a lot of fun!
5 hours later, it was almost midnight.
Usually at the end of the evening, I try to get someone to walk me to my car. It’s fairly safe to walk through the city at night, but I like to live carefuly. I usually ask a friend, or a friend of a friend to walk with me. It’s a pretty common practise, and it’s no trouble to anyone really.
But this evening, the multi-story car park was literally just around the corner from the event. So I decided to walk back to the car by myself.
There were a few people out and about the streets at that time. Some young party-goers. A couple in their mid-fifties. Three scruffy backpackers.
I made my way to the car park, paid my parking fees and stepped into the lift.
I pressed the 6 button, to take me to the 6th floor.
The lift doors closed. Then it made that little jolt to move upwards.
Up, up, up.
1st floor. 2nd floor.
3rd floor. 4th floor.
Then it stopped.
I assumed that somebody pressed the button on the 5th floor, the door was going to open, and the person was going to walk in.
But the door didn’t open.
And the little computer screen on the lift wall went BLANK.
I thought – Hmm, what does this mean?
I waited a few more seconds.
I looked around the lift space, to see if there was a security camera. Maybe this was a joke? Maybe someone was watching this? Maybe the car park people were a little bored tonight and they wanted to SEE MY REACTION.
I casually leaned towards the button panel and pressed 6 again, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
OK. So I then casually pressed “DOOR OPEN”.
I pressed “GROUND FLOOR”
Then “5” and “4” and “3” and “2” and “1” and “6” again.
Then I stepped back and sighed.
Can this really be happening?
Am I really stuck in a lift?
I pressed DOOR OPEN DOOR OPEN DOOR OPEN DOOR OPEN DOOR OPEN because I COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE STUCK IN A LIFT!
I was suddenly very, very aware of the space around me. The very LITTLE SPACE AROUND ME… and I started to sweat and feel a little closed in.
I was surrounded by silvery walls. Not mirrors. Just metallic panels, that reflected my silhouette in a smokey kind of way…I was alone, and it was a bit spooky.
In my brain, I shouted HELLOOOOOOO in a tragic forlorn kind of way, and the walls seemed to echo back at me HELLO HELLOO HELLOO HELLOO.
My brain started to whiz around and I started to freak out.
OK I’M TRAPPED IN THIS LIFT. THIS IS NOT GOOD. THINK KAREN. THINK KAREN.
THIS IS NOT A MOVIE. I AM NOT GOING TO SUFFOCATE. I AM NOT GOING TO DIE. THE LIFT CABLES ARE NOT GOING TO SNAP AND HURTLE ME 5 FLOORS TO MY DEATH.
And at that moment I noticed the BIG RED EMERGENCY BUTTON on the lift panel.
But I hesitated.
Is this really an emergency? What’s going to happen if I press it? Will alarm bells ring? Will the lights go out? Will I be launched into emergency red alert? Will I still have oxygen supply?
So I chickened out and decided to press the TELEPHONE BUTTON instead.
But nothing happened.
Okokok. Fine. I’ll press the EMERGENCY BUTTON.
Still nothing happened!
I felt helpless.
I heard this little tiny voice coming from the walls.
I kid you not. It sounded like there was SOMEONE HIDING IN THE WALL. It was freaky, yet comforting.
But I couldn’t make out what the voice was saying.
It was so soft and far away.
Was it real? Was I imagining it?
Where were the speakers?
Where was the microphone? How do I talk back to this voice?
So I just shouted into the air, like I was talking to myself. Or God.
WHAT? HELLO! I’M STUCK! I CAN’T HEAR YOU PROPERLY!
The small voice said “What’s going on?”
THE LIFT IS STUCK!
“Where are you?”
I’M HERE! IN THE FRICKING LIFT!
“Can you open the door?”
NO I CANNOT OPEN THE DOOR!
“Have you tried pressing the Door Open button?”
YES. I. HAVE. I said in the most condescending tone ever. I got angry. Does he think I’m an idiot? I felt like punching the guy in the nose. He’s playing a trick on me!
Then the voice went quite. And I thought. Oh no, hang on. Wait wait wait. Don’t go! Don’t leave me here! I didn’t mean to be rude! I’m so sorry! Help! Hello?
I slapped myself on the head and thought, I can’t believe this is happening.
Was that voice real? Did I really hear a voice?
I’m standing here talking an imaginary voice in the walls, or in my head.
Then after the longest few seconds of my life, the little voice came back and said simply,
“Press number 8”
I almost jumped for joy at the sound of his voice. The voice was real!
HELLO! YES I’M STILL HERE! I STILL NEED YOUR HELP!
But then I registered what he said and I hesitated.
Why number 8? What’s on level 8? I don’t want to go to level 8. Is this guy messing with me? Is he watching all this? Is this a joke? What the hell’s going on? Should I ask him Why 8? Should I explain to him that I actually want to go to level 6? Or should I just do what he says?
After another few long seconds. I thought, Oh what the hell, I’ll just do what he says.
So I pressed level 8.
And miraculously the lift hummed to life!
It gave a little jolt, like it woke up, and it started to go up.
I WAS FRICKING ECSTATIC! OH THANK YOU MY WONDERFUL LIFT! YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD LIFT! A MOST EXCELLENT LIFT! YOU CAN DO IT! JUST A LITTLE MORE! GO GO LITTLE LIFT!
It reached Level 8, and the doors opened.
OMG I’M ALIVE! I’M SAVED! I WILL BE ABLE TO GO HOME TO SEE MY HUSBAND AND KIDS!
Cold air swept in as the doors came apart. I literally LEAPED out of the lift. But I remembered the voice, so I quickly turned around, stuck my head into the lift and shouted THANK YOU!
And then I quickly pulled my head OUT OF THE DOORWAY, in case it got caught between the doors.
Phew. Adventure over.
The lift seemed to be working now, but I was so rattled that I decided to walk – in high heels – down the two sets of stairs to my car parked on Level 6.
Man I was happy to get out of there.
It’s pretty much every person’s nightmare.
But I must say, it could have been worse.
I could have been trapped for a long time. Or with OTHER PEOPLE who were smelly. Or with a serial killer. Now that would have been really bad. And at least I didn’t need to pee!
If you are ever stuck in a lift – just press “8”.