After 4 hours of sleep, I knew it was going to be an exhausting day ahead. I am one person who is unable to go through a day without the appropriate amount of sleep. In addition, my husband was away in another state and I had to stay over my mum’s place for the night so my son can be looked after while I was away at work. Factoring all these into place, I had a few large bags to carry, along with my son’s feeding chair (as it would be totally impossible to feed him without it) and of course, my son in tow.
Populace during the day at my condo is minimal, as most would have been at work or school. However, on that particular day, the floor below was teeming with people as there was a wake for a deceased. Leaving my house, I hauled my load across the corridor and pressed the elevator button with my elbow, sweat already seeping down my sideburns. Thinking I was going to be alone in the elevator, I generously placed all my belongings on the floor and let my son squeal around, completely oblivious to the fact that the next half an hour was going to play out like a horrible nightmare.
The elevator stopped at the floor below and the door opened. There, waiting for the elevator were around 11 or 12 elderly folks from the wake. They unceremoniously shuffled their way into the elevator and my son and I were pressed back into the elevator. I already had a prickly feeling at the back of my neck. I somehow felt the desperate need to fling out of the elevator but I stayed put. My son, intimidated by the towering people around him, immediately stopped squealing and grabbed my leg. My car was on the 4th floor of the building and the lobby, where the rest of them were headed was on the 2nd. (The 1st floor was the basement car park).
Before I continue, let me just stress that they were all very old and possibly most of their limbs and organs were not working; I say this in a very frustrating manner. Not because I generally don’t have patience for the old but because being stuck in a lift with the slow and almost deaf is just too foreboding for me.
The elevator then proceeded to go downward. I felt a slight shudder to its descent but thought nothing of it. The elevator then stopped at the 4th floor and I tried my very best to excuse my way out politely. However, as oblivious as they were, they all thought the elevator had made a mistake (imagine that!) and closed the door! One old man even said “Ohh dear no no, the lobby is not at the 4th floor, it’s on the 2nd. We should close the door”. Bear in mind I had already said I needed to get out but none of them heard me. As the door closed, I thought to myself that I would just let all of them file out on the 2nd and I will take the elevator back up to the 4th.
That’s when all hell broke loose (at least, it did for me). I am already slightly claustrophobic. I hate being in small, tight spaces. (I even have a problem being under covers while asleep). The elevator started shuddering violently!… I AM not exaggerating here! The elevator shuddered downward like some dragon climbing down the shafts and everybody began shuffling uncomfortably. My son became very afraid of the dragon and started crying loudly. The old folks just tsk tsked and cooed at him. I wanted to smack their hand away. (All rationale has already flown out of my head).
The next few things that happened made me want to commit murder. The elevator finally bypassed the 2nd floor, where the lobby was and stopped at the 1st floor where the basement car park was. There was complete silence when it stopped. The door did not open. The buttons did not light up and the dragon did not even grunt the slightest. My panic button did however light up and I started praying out loud while everybody stared confusingly. Then my survival button lit up and I started to think whether I had enough milk, pampers and clothes for my son to last a day. I honestly thought I was going to be stuck for a very long time in there and wanted my son to survive the apocalypse.
Amazingly, my prayer worked and the elevator doors suddenly zinged open like in some horror movie. And you know what these &(*#^$(*&%&@!!!! people did??? They closed the door! Again!!… All muttering to one another that the stupid lobby is on the 2nd floor and they should just wait out the dragon to make up its peanut-sized mind to go back up the 2nd floor so that these lazy nimble-limbed people could save a walk up one measly flight of stairs (I say this very calmly for the benefit of the reader; all rationale in my mind has flown out with the birds) . I was berserk! I actually shouted very Loudly “I Need TO get Out!”. But amazingly, the devil’s hands were covering their ears I suppose, because they did not hear me.
The dragon then started shuddering upward. My son, by the way, is still crying non-stop in my arms. I had no limbs left to wipe the sweat of my face/nose/mouth/eyeballs. I continued to pray loudly. The elevator then decides to play a cruel trick on us all and stopped mid-way between the 1st and 2nd floor. The door creaked open once again; (you could almost see a disembodied corpse of a hand push it open).
So, we all had to climb up into the 2nd floor opening through the door-way. The old man earlier, thank God, had the decency to climb first and hold the door preventing it from closing. And well, did I mention they were elderly folk? There had to be, I guess, one very old lady. There just had to be (insert eye-roll here). She was overweight, held a walking stick and was very wobbly. Because she was overweight she was, of course, blocking the entrance. Of course. She started whining, saying her leg was swollen and she couldn’t climb and her knees were giving way and her toenails were tingling and there were voices inside her head (well, I’m sure she said it anyway) all sorts of whiny mumbo-jumbo. I all but shoved her with my legs out the entrance.
Once she climbed through with the effort of an elephant seal, everybody managed to get out. They were all so out of breathe and flushed from climbing the Alps that they had just climbed through that they all forgot to give me a hand! The nerve!
I had to shove my little one onto the floor (the floor was at the same height as my waist) and climb through it myself. Diapers, milk bottles and clothes fell out of my bag. I unceremoniously shoved everything back inside and scooped my son. (I looked like I was looting an electrical store after a typhoon) and walked up 4 elevated platforms to the 4th floor where my car was parked.
When I reached my car, I was already bawling, more out of sheer frustrations and the aftermath of panic. My son, however, was skipping happily with a smile on his face to my car. I glared at him menacingly. Well, he didn’t have to look so happy! After we settled in the car, I was still crying because I was exhausted, my top was drenched in sweat, there was nobody to say ‘there there’, both my husband and best friend decided to go go-carting at that very moment (at least, that’s what I thought their excuse should be for not picking my desperate call) and my small little imp was humming to the cd (he wasn’t so cute to me at that moment).
I know right now, weeks later I am smirking and huffing at the whole thing but that day, I was pretty shaken up. I never ever want to be stuck in an elevator, period. Alone or with anybody, period. Even for 2 seconds or 2 hours, period.
ps: no offence to the nimble…=)
By Nitha Nathan