Lift Heaven & Hell

Today it happened, that thing you often dread (yet sometimes strangely hope for) actually happened to me…

Today I got stuck in a lift.

Despite the Baltic weather consuming London, our whole office is always well heated and it was surprisingly warm as I shuffled into the lift. I was only nipping out for 20 minutes, to pick something up from Covent Garden in my lunch hour…or so I thought. As it turned out there was no nipping involved.

The lift was full but not squashed. Eight of us stood silently as it quickly descended from the 6th to the ground floor…and then it happened. There was a loud grunt, followed by a terrifying bang as we hit ground zero. One lady let out a small yelp, but most of us stayed silent, still shocked as our predicament unfolded. The doors tried to open, but only managed a few millimetres before locking into place. A small slither of light informed us that we were near the correct ground position, but not quite there. We were definitely stuck.

It’s a common topic of conversation – who would you love, and who would you hate, to be stuck in a lift with? I used to play this game, although my lucid love list changed considerably over the years: MJ is no longer with us, Britney has lost some sparkle, Beckham, Botham, Arnie, maybe Nelson Mandela? I’m not sure anymore, I should probably say me wife, although in reality she would not be a calming presence in this situation.

In fact in many ways I didn’t do too badly on the lift heaven front. Jess and Luke from my office were both relaxed, and we managed to cover off a few interesting topics: The Olympics, The Six Nations, Oscar Pistorious…

But we were not alone. A number of people from ‘other floors’ were also in our space, and one in particular was not quite as pleasant. I now have a solid definition of lift hell… as I have been there. He was the first to panic, he was the first to bark instruction and the first to lose control. What’s more I suspect that he was very cause of the lift malfunction! The gentleman in question was larger than average, considerably unhealthily larger. Within minutes he was sweating profusely, flapping and hyperventilating. His constant alarm ringing, loud complaining and frantic fidgeting was certainly not helping. I was stuck in a lift with a morbidly obese demon, set upon drawing out our uncomfortable experience. And it was him that forbid me from trying to re-route the elevator to an alternate floor.

Finally, after roughly 20 minutes, under the instruction and guidance of our prompt lift engineer, we shuddered and started ascending. As the doors opened on the first floor the was a universal sigh of relief – from now on we will all take the stairs.

And maybe I was too quick to judge our hefty companion. If we had been stuck fast for months, and if our animalistic life preservation instincts had really taken hold, he would have definitely provided the most meaty meal…