So I came across something interesting at the building that houses the Brazilian Consulate. They have a type of elevator system that I have not seen before. You would think that elevators are pretty much set in stone by now, that there would not be a whole lot of innovation in their use (Wonkavator notwithstanding). I mean, we have all seen tall buildings that have banks of elevators that go to different floors. We have seen fast elevators, slow elevators. I have been in elevators that broke down and their safety mechanisms kicked in (fortunately) to stop them. I have been in glass elevators, brightly colored elevators, disco elevators. I have been in voice operated elevators and card key and fob elevators. I have been in elevators where a full-time person sits there and pushes the buttons for you. I have been in freight elevators and others with those metal double gates you have to close, and I have been in some where the doors close vertically and meet in the middle. All of that, and I had never seen a system like the one I saw today. There were no elevator buttons inside the elevators, nor on the doors outside the elevators. But there was a numeric keypad just before entering the bank of elevators. There was no sign, so I had to ask, but then it was pretty easy: You type in the number of your floor, and it says on the screen which elevator to take. It comes, you enter, and it whisks you to your floor with no more interaction from you. They are practically personalized vehicles moving in the vertical dimension. And it made me wonder. Is this more efficient or less? It definitely saves time with people not having to fumble for buttons. Anyway, interesting system.




Everyone who knows me well knows I have a touch of claustrophobia. Heights, wide open spaces, crowds, spiders, snakes or mice — none of these things bother me in the least. But the idea of being trapped in an enclosed space is unsettling to me. So obviously I am not fond of crowded elevators or subway cars, especially when stopped between stations or floors.  And as fate would have it, that is exactly what happened tonight. I was on my way home from seeing a play with friends.  I got into the elevator alone as there was no one else around, and pushed the button for my floor. The elevator started climbing, then abruptly started falling, fast. It jerked to a stop about two floors down from there and shook a couple of times. I nervously started pressing buttons of the closest floors to where I was trying to get the door to open. Button lights went on and off, but no movement. So I pushed the call button. The guy at the front desk answered, but then got cut off.  I called again and he answered again, this time asking me where I was.

“I’m trapped in the elevator!”, I said. “And I have to pee!”

And he said to hold on, he was calling for help. I felt warm and took off my winter coat and waited for the inevitable panic to set in. But you know what? It didn’t, really. Sure I wanted out of there and yes I did have to pee, but it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I expected it to be. Although I wasn’t relishing the idea of pissing in the corner of the elevator (especially with the camera looking down on me), I was staying pretty calm. And then, like magic, about 10 minutes later the elevator started working again and I was able to ride to my floor and exit.