A bunch of us are going to England in about a week, to go on a 10-day junket to Leeds and then on to London, with plans to sing at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday, May 2nd. To prepare for this event, we’ve been rehearsing on select weekends days at the condo of our choral director, John, for the past month and change.  He has an electronic keyboard and there are only upwards of 9 of us at any given time, so his living room has been a rehearsal venue that has worked well for us.

John lives on the 3rd floor of an 8-floor building so when we were done with this past Saturday’s rehearsals, we all piled into the elevator….Barbara, Carol, Darlene, Joe, John, Marcia, Marge (holding a plate of fruit for a party she was going to be attending after rehearsal), Matt, Peggy and me (toting a bottle of wine for the same party Marge was going to). It was 5:00pm and we were all tired from 3 hours of singing but we were in good spirits, joking and laughing, like we usually do. We pressed “1” and down we went….down…down…down….stop.

And then the doors didn’t open.


We pressed “1” again. Nuthin’. “Door Open” button? Nope. Ummm….”2″? No. “3”? Huh-uh. “7”? Nada. “Door Open” again? No help at all.


I was closest to the button console and, let’s face it, it was easiest for me to bend down to see what our other options were. So I oh-so-elegantly squatted like I was getting ready to give birth in the field bent and read a button that said, “EMERGENCY BUTTON”. Well, let’s see…we’re 10 people in an elevator and it’s stuck. Yeah, I’d certainly say this was an emergency, wouldn’t you? So I pressed it. We heard a recorded voice say “Emergency Operation. Your location has been noted and personnel have been notified.” Next we heard an electronic telephone ring and the emergency elevator notifying service guy got on the phone. I told him we were 10 people stuck in the elevator. He first asked if we were OK or did anyone need EMS services – we replied that we were all fine. He said to try pressing the “DOOR OPEN” button for 5 straight seconds – sometimes that resets the electronics. I did that…it didn’t help. So then said he would contact the appropriate people to get us out. I asked what the estimated time would be and he said he wasn’t sure but would know more in about 10 minutes so we could call back then.

10 minutes, huh? Um, did I mention that this elevator was about 3′ x 5′? Not a whole lot of elbow room. No air conditioning, either…let’s thank heaven that it wasn’t “oppressively hot season” yet and that everyone had showered. But yeah, we could do 10 minutes.

We were actually in pretty good spirits though, laughing our way through an annoying situation. Take a look:

5:07pm:  Peggy takes her jacket off, which leads to a handful of “stripping in the elevator” jokes. Someone else mentions that because of the style of underpants they’re wearing, they CAN take their pants off if need be. I didn’t know about anyone else but personally, I was hoping it didn’t come to that.

5:08pm – Joe texts our friend who is a Florida State Trooper, thinking she may have some idea of how we can get help more quickly: “What do you recommend we do in the event of being stuck in an elevator?” Her response, “Press the emergency button.” Gee…thanks! LOL!

5:10pm: It’s been 10 minutes so I do another graceful elevator plie bend down again and press the Emergency Button again. This time we get a woman on the phone and we ask what the status is. She looks it up on the computer and says that the Elevator Service guy has been contacted and he will get there as soon as possible. How long? She said she had no idea. I thought she was a little snippy about it, too. Hey, WE’RE the ones stuck in the elevator, why are you showing attitude, lady? But I kept that to myself. Anyway, she asked how many people are in the elevator? 10. One person is insisting it’s 9, until she realizes she keeps forgetting to count herself, LOL. And do we need EMS? No. (Protocol apparently is to ask if people need EMS with every phone call) OK, we’ll sit tight until they come. Well, we’ll stand tight, anyway…there’s no room to sit. Besides, Marge was still carrying the fruit plate and the juice was dripping so it would have been a pretty sticky sit, anyway (Upon seeing the wet spot on the floor: “Hey Marge, is that coming from you?”).

By 5:15 or so, we started to realize that this wasn’t going to necessarily be a short-term situation so we started planning our future in the elevator…

— “Why worry about volcanoes in Iceland when we have this?”
— “Stop laughing – you’re going to use up all the oxygen!”
— “Now would not be a good time to do a big exhale to get rid of all the stale air in our lungs.”
— “Well, we have Marge’s fruit and Sharon’s wine but after that, I guess we’re going to have to start eating each other.”
— “Your purse keeps bumping into me and it’s annoying.” Followed by, “You see, they’re turning on each other already!”
— “Wow, what great publicity this could be for Sing Live, if our story could get printed in the newspaper! ‘Singing Group Trapped in Elevator But Comes Out Singing.'”

At 5:30pm, with homemade fans (pieces of sheet music?) swishing the hot air, I called the Emergency Response people for the 3rd time. We got a woman again, I think the same one as before, just going by attitude.

Me: “Hi, we’ve called before, we’re stuck in an elevator and want to know if there are any updates?”
Her (checking her computer): “Ma’am, we called the Building Manager and he was going to call the Elevator Repair company. That’s all we know.”
Me: “Well can you find out for sure if he called the Elevator Repair Company? Because we’ve got 10 people in a very small space, 5 of them are senior citizens, there’s no air conditioning and it’s very warm in here.”
Her: “Do you want me to call EMS?”
Me: “What would that entail?”
Her: “Paramedics would come and they would use the jaws of life to force the elevator open. And they would break the elevator. Does anyone need EMS?”
(I took a quick survey of everyone.)
Me: “No, we don’t need EMS. At least, not yet. So how do we make sure that the Building Manager called the Emergency Repair company?”
Her: “Call back in 10 minutes and we’ll call him and find out.”

5:32pm – Carol is assuming that her husband is waiting for her at the nearby pub but she knows he doesn’t have his cell phone with him. John had already called the pub a few minutes ago to relay a message but we don’t know if they ever actually found “Mr. Carol.” Joe calls our friend Tyler, who is also waiting to meet him at the nearby pub. He asks Tyler if there is a balding guy there in his 60’s. There is! Joe asks Tyler to ask the guy if his name is Steve. It is! He asks Tyler to give Steve the phone. He did! Joe explained the situation to Steve (“Hi Steve, this is Joe and I sing with Carol. Carol wants you to know that we’re stuck in the elevator in John’s condo. Yes, we’re all fine.”), and then asked him to put Tyler back on. Joe then thanked Tyler for not asking Joe why he wanted him to give his phone to a total stranger.

5:35pm – We hear people outside. “Hey, are you stuck in there?” All 10 of said, “Yes!”, at the exact same time (Such cadence! Such rhythm! We should join a chorus or something!) “Just press the Door Open button for, like, 10 seconds. It’s supposed to reset the system.” Ah OK…it’s another person who lives in the condo. It doesn’t work, buddy. Been there, done that. But thanks.

5:40pm – I call my Emergency Response friends via Emergency Button again. Got the guy again. He said that according to the computer, the Elevator Repair Company was contacted 15 minutes ago and should be there in 6 minutes. So help should be there any minute now.

5:42pm – We hear some clicking and some keys and all of a sudden we were moving! YAY! It was a VERY slow ascent to the 2nd floor but hey, it was movement. And as soon as those doors opened, we were OUTTA THERE! WOO HOO!!!  Comparatively cool, fresh air! Elbow room! The stairwell was right next to the elevator, so we walked down to the 1st floor and thanked the elevator repair dude before loading into the cars to go to the pub.

Yeah…next rehearsal? We’re taking the stairs.