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Pennsylvania's Most Interesting Blog

24 August 2005

Love in an Elevator...

...ok, this absolutely MUST be reported as one of Penn's Most Interesting Happenings Today. The scene: the south elevator on the fourth floor of the Burrowes Bldg. on the Penn State campus. The posse: five German Dept. TA's/grad students and one friend of the TAs.

It was a beautiful afternoon, around 5 PM, a day of work behind us, including orientation for the incoming grad students and general preparing for the busy weeks ahead. I even sent off my newly-updated syllabus to my upcoming students (keep in mind that classes start NEXT week so I'm way ahead here, I figure after three years I can do that, or at least set up a guise of being prepared...), feeling good about having accomplished something to be crossed of my List of Things to Do.

My other colleagues in the cubes and I were thinking that winding the day down with dinner out might be a nice thing. So we hang out for a bit and go back and forth on where to go, who is going, etc. and we finally walk to the elevator; four of us stepped in and, as we were waiting for two others, I held the 'doors open' button til they got in and then hit the 'G' button to take us to our usual exit on the ground floor.

Doors shut, all six of us inside.

The elevator fires up as usual. About two seconds go by.


THUUUUUNK! THWACK! super loud and powerful downward thrust!!!!!!! Immediate halt!


we're jammed.

(Keep in mind that sudden harsh impacts with accompanying sounds are something I associate with being rear-ended, an experience which resulted in a neck injury I spent over 2 years re-habbing on, so this is not one of the most super fun sitches for me. But I remained calm. Because I have vigilance and resolve. AND I love freedom.)

After brief moments of collective 'WTF???" we try to hit the emergency button and no sound comes of us pulls the 'stop' thingie and that comes out. We check the elevator phone and....

all that is there is a blue wire

with no phone attached!

Cell phones, get the cell phones! we think.

Go over what the campus police number is. No, that's not it, try it with a five on the end instead. Yeah, four ones after that. OK it's ringing.

I'm on line with the campus police, a very calming voice at the end of the line, I have to think our urgency was relayed when I said 'there are SIX of us in here and one is getting pretty ansty".

He says an officer and an elevator tech is on the way, asks me for the elevator number on the button panel, and will call back at my friend's number I gave him cause my signal seems to be cutting out.

Minutes go by, air growing stickier, getting warmer.

We hear voices outside, and not too long after the doors start to pry open...the tech is there. We had actually only 'fallen' about three feet so we hop up to the floor, butt first, and all get out of the elevator. The young officer asks for our I.D.s to use to report the incident. Both he and the tech are very nice and came quickly to our resuce. We were only in there about 10-15 mins but...

...definitely the Most Interesting Elevator Ride in Burrowes. Naturally, we ran through all possible 'what if' scenarios afterwards, such as what if we hadn't had cell phones--we'd really have been screwed, as the alarm did not work and there was no way to communicate with the outside; even yelling would not have helped because everyone was gone for the day--or if we'd been stuck in there forever the department would have to seriously wonder what to do with significant portion of its teaching assistants suddenly GONE.

We stair it down four flights out of the builiding and proceed to Cafe 210, where we drink and eat til 11:30 PM, wow-ing the Euro Club by letting them know that WE, the hearty, had been there since about 5:30, forever bonded in Elevator Stuckage.

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