Wednesday, April 17, 2024 Apr 17, 2024
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When Things Don't Go as Planned

Being stuck on an elevator for 90 minutes led to an epiphany.
| |Photography by Elizabeth Lavin

One morning last month, I raced out the door to hoof it to an early meeting. Then I got stuck on an elevator for an hour and a half.

I live in a downtown high-rise that began life as an office tower in the 1950s. I love it, but frequently, one, two, or sometimes three of the building’s four aging elevators are out of service. When elevator 1 arrived, I hesitated slightly. This particular elevator had been down for a few days, and I had heard about an entrapped resident who had to climb out the top. “Surely it’s fine,” I thought as I stepped inside.  

The door closed, and I pressed 1 to take me to the lobby from floor 22. Nothing. I pressed Door Open and Door Close. The lights flickered for a second, then went dark.

I tried to call the management office, but I had no phone service. I thought for a minute, then sent a Teams message to Ben (Swanger, D CEO’s managing editor). It worked!

Always the problem-solver, Ben tried to reach the property manager, but he couldn’t get a human on the phone. 

I finally decided to hit the emergency button, and soon was on the line with a helpful woman who advised me to sit away from the elevator doors. (Um, OK?) She assured me that help would soon be on the way. After abut 15 minutes, I sat down on the floor, pulled the laptop out of my backpack, and began working.

After an hour, I did what most people would do in the situation and posted something on Facebook.

Mmmmm. Peanut butter frosties.

I thought about how grateful I was to have a double espresso latte and a fully charged phone and laptop. I also had a tin of homemade peanut butter frosties. (Email me if you want the recipe.)

Then, I began to settle in. The longer I waited, the more I appreciated the absolute quiet of sitting in that empty elevator. When I was rescued after one hour and 27 minutes, I was almost disappointed.

Sunny Nunan, a friend and founder and CEO of The Admin Awards, put it in perspective. “Wait. You were stuck in an elevator with no ability to talk on the phone, in complete silence, with peanut butter frosties, for 1.5 hours? Sounds like heaven to me,” she commented on Facebook.

“And coffee,” I replied.

“Call me next time,” she wrote. “I’ll join you.”   


Christine Perez

Christine Perez

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Christine is the editor of D CEO magazine and its online platforms. She’s a national award-winning business journalist who has…

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