“Elevator Survival” by Renee Hughes

Life has a way of recycling. A few years ago I was relocated to our older building I had been hired into three decades before. How old? The site had been constructed in the 1930s. Much of the building was updated in the past fifteen years or so, including a new facade, though thankfully the magnificent and ornate lobby was not touched.

Unfortunately, neither were the elevators. I recently instructed a young coworker (who happens to be claustrophobic and was caught for an extended time between floors on one of our elevators) on how to survive riding them. Survive, you say? Surely it cannot be that bad. How about having an employee go out on permanent disability because the elevator dropped a dozen floors and caught suddenly, causing him permanent backbone damage?

So here are Renee’s Elevator Survival Rules:

1. Take the stairs. Seriously, if you are able-bodied and not carrying something, walk those stairs whenever possible.
2. Well, if you have continued reading, you must be determined to take the elevator despite the hazards. Start riding by standing with your back braced against one of the side walls so you do not collapse if the elevator catches on the way down.
3. Place yourself near the front of the elevator. If one of the other riders begins a coughing/sneezing fit you can exit at the next stop.
4. Do NOT board an elevator with a person who is obviously ill.
5. Keep a distance from any individuals on the elevator with an open beverage, especially a hot coffee. If the elevator jerks and you are by them, you will get an unanticipated baptism and be simultaneously scalded.
6. Keep your knees flexed the entire ride. If you lock your knees and the elevator free falls and comes to a sudden stop, your vertebrae are in danger.
7. If you are claustrophobic, learn to count the dots on the ceiling tiles, the wood grain whorls, the stains on the carpet, something, to distract yourself.
8. If you feel faint riding the elevator, tell somebody by you and lie down on the filthy floor. I had to do this once after I donated blood. Just swallow your pride and do it.
9. One of our auditors was trapped for an hour and a half on a stalled elevator. So ALWAYS make a restroom facilities visit BEFORE you get on an elevator if you feel anywhere close to a call of nature, or have just imbibed a beverage. I should probably have put this rule first since it is the most basic rule.
10. Carry an “elevator book” with you, something you can read a handful of pages at a time. You’ll finish a book before you know it and not be so annoyed with waiting for the elevator or the multiple stops on the way to your destination. Now don’t pick a book you can’t put down or you will miss your floor. I watched a driver on a highway once who was so engrossed in a book that she simultaneously read and drove, scraping the passenger side of her car against the right side of a flyover ramp, sparks shooting yards in either direction. I would, though, like to write a book like that.


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