Thursday, February 04, 2010

The slow ride down

Ann Curry got stuck in an elevator at the New York Times building the other day, but she and her fellow shut-ins spent the time tweeting about it. It always helps to have your cell phone on you.

I got stuck in an elevator in New York once in the mid-90s. Well, I don't know if "stuck" is the right word, because we kept moving -- only at a insanely slow pace. During summer break from college, my friend Mia spent the summer in New York taking some acting workshops (I think) at NYU. We'd occasionally hang out, and on one afternoon, we went to the observation deck of the World Trade Center. On the way down, instead of the rapid blur of floor numbers flashing on the digital display, we got clear, long-lasting numerals for seconds at a time. Instead of whooshing down the dozens of floors to the lobby, we descended slowly but surely, as if being lowered by rope down a cliff.

The elevator operator assured us we were safe, but then explained that this had happened before --and it wasn't going to get better until the ride ended. And these elevators to the observation deck had only two stops -- lobby and roof, essentially. There were no other options, no other floors to select to try to jump-start the high-speed gear.

So a ride that would normally take 45 seconds (wild guess) took 45 minutes (roughly accurate recall). Thankfully, the elevator wasn't crowded and we all had ample personal space. It was a friendly bunch and we chatted as we watched the floors slowly tick away. But this being the mid-'90s, we didn't have cell phones. Even if we did, they wouldn't have had texting or cameras (and I must not have had mine that day, because I don't believe I have any shots of the view from the top). Of course, we also didn't have Twitter and Facebook to which to upload any images.

Once we finally reached the lobby, we probably clapped or let out a mild cheer as the doors opened and we stepped out. With smiles, we turned and headed in our separate directions, out into the warm sunshine of Lower Manhattan.

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