Friday, February 3, 2012

My first time ...

So guess what happened to me last night? I got stuck in an elevator! With NINE other people. I went to a writing workshop, and afterward, got on the elevator which was already crowded, and then 3 more people got on after I did, the door shut, the elevator started down and then just stopped. We had gone 3 feet down. But it would not open, would not budge. And no one would come to fix it. We were put on hold, TWICE. So we called three times. Finally, we called 911. The firefighters got there. The elevator repair people never did arrive, although we had been told they were "almost there" a couple of times. The firefighters opened the door, one of them stood back in the hall with a bowl of candy from the reception table (from the workshop) stuffing his face, and the other (in full gear) reached a hand down, expecting us to haul ourselves up the 3 foot drop somehow, or be pulled up by our arms. I yelled up to the young woman from the workshop, who was dripping sweat from going up and down the stairs to deal with everyone, to get us a chair to climb on and she did, and then we older folks climbed out via the chair. I then beat it the hell down the stairs and outside. We had been in the elevator for an hour. I was hot because it was too crowded in the elevator, plus my hands were full, so I didn't take off my coat. Once outdoors I cooled down quickly and got cold. I had just missed my bus, didn't have hat or gloves and the wind was up. I called my daughter and asked her to pick me up downtown, then walked to the Hawthorne bridge and met her there. It was about a mile's brisk walk, and my ears were burning with cold by the time I got there and she picked me up. I was so glad to get home.
I had a couple of frightened moments on the elevator, but really just didn't let my mind go there. Instead, I struck up conversations with the other writers around me, asking them what they were working on. All the women have strong female protagonists -- even the YA writer. There was a young woman at the back of the elevator who isn't a writer, but is a broadcaster. She had been dealing with brain cancer. Is now looking for work. She seemed bright and optimistic, certainly was poised in our situation. I hope she finds work soon. We writers shared our current projects' stories with each other to pass the time. I was struck by the creativity and promise of each one.
All in all, I'd have to say I probably got as much from the experience in the elevator as I did from the workshop. Which is not a diss to the workshop -- I liked the interaction in the elevator is all. Plus it was free, and had the bonus of great relief at the end.