Summer in Arizona, late morning. I was driving in downtown Phoenix with my two best friends from Italy who were here for their annual visit. We were on our way out of town for the weekend, but first I had to drop off some escrow papers. The escrow company was located on the 17th floor of a high-rise business complex. The complex had an adjacent parking garage, fortunate because that day it was around a hundred and nine degrees.
I left my friends in the car with the A.C. on. I would only be away five to ten minutes. The older security guard directed me to the elevators. I hate elevators.
To this day, every time I get into one, especially an empty one, bloody scenes from Dressed to Kill and The Shining flash through my mind.
Of course the elevator was empty. “Heeere’s Johnny.” I pushed #17. The 13th floor button was missing. Right. Like that was supposed to fool me? But it was a smooth ride, that is until the 14th floor. The elevator began to shake then jerked to a stop. Before I came to grips with what had happened, it began to slide down¾as in fall. It jolted to a violent stop somewhere between the 9th and 10th floors and began to quake again. By then I was shaking as hard as that metal box from hell.
I looked around to see if a camera switched on, a voice, anything. But destiny wasn’t done with me yet. The elevator climbed again, 14th floor, 15th floor. All right! Where was someone to high five when you really needed them?
But wait. Shaking and sliding again. I finally unfroze my brain and pushed the alarm button, once, twice. A lot of times, I just kept on pushing. There was nothing to do at that point but wait while the elevator resumed its yo-yo imitation. Full panic mode. I jammed my fist against the alarm button for the hundredth time, waved my arms frantically in front of the camera. It was quite high, and I wasn’t sure my fluttering hands were visible. I didn’t dare jump up and down in case my ninety-five pounds were the tipping point that caused the cage to tumble to the basement.
I was sick and desperate. An image of my girlfriends found dead in my car from heat stroke while my corpse was extricated from the fallen elevator increased my terror. Do I need to mention I’m prone to melodrama?
Suddenly I remembered my cell phone. Duh. With trembling fingers, I dialed 9-1-1. I somehow managed to relate my location and the situation to the serene voice at the other end.
And that my friends is how I met six studly first responders who not only rescued me from the blasted elevator but were kind enough to escort me to the Escrow company then back to the lobby.
One more thing. I had to know why security never came to my rescue. The answer? The geriatric security guard said he saw me on the video screen, but it looked like I was dancing! He didn’t hear the alarm. I figured his hearing aid was turned off.
I rushed back to my car. My girlfriends were excited because they got to see a real American fire engine with the lights and sirens going full blast. They felt sorry for me, always so busy that I missed all that fun action. Right.