40 Minutes On The 40th Floor
It was a short getaway.
No speaking engagements.
Staying on the 53rd floor of a Las Vegas hotel gave a whole new meaning to a room with a view!
Leaving the room to meet my husband, I grabbed my almost empty Starbucks cup and finished drinking my Chia Latte as I turned the hallway corner to the elevators.
It was my lucky day... no waiting…the center elevator was open and I quickly joined the man already inside.
After the normal elevator greeting – you know the quick eye contact, smile and head nod -- we both leaned against our separate sides ready for the ride to the lobby.
Suddenly there was a very loud CLUNK!
“That doesn’t sound good,” I said.
The elevator then forcefully jerked as it came to a sudden stop on the 40th floor.
“Oh, this can’t be good…,” I began to say as I was interrupted by the elevator alarm blaring and an automatic message telling us the elevator had “malfunctioned” and to push the alarm button for help.
My new friend, Pat, followed directions and pushed the button only to be met with the recording,
“Thank you for calling Vdara, all of our operators are busy, please stay on the line and you will be answered in the order of your call."
...obviously not in the order of importance, I thought.
In the next 40+ minutes I learned a few
1. Closed spaces get hot very quickly and water is a good thing. ~
In the first ten minutes the temperature began rising dramatically. I could feel my face flush and saw the same in my friend. Typically, I am not a fan of drinking water. Suddenly, the health benefits of water became very clear to me and I began wishing I had some.
2. Little things matter. ~
Rapidly the circle of my thoughts became very small. The show tickets for later that night didn’t matter. In a world where time speeds by at the pace of technology, each minute in this elevator slowed to an excruciating drag. Looking at my empty Starbucks cup and with no restroom in sight, I began regretting drinking the whole thing! Then I realized in my hand I held the biggest treasure I could think of at the moment – an empty cup. If worse came to worse, I was prepared.
3. You can become friends with strangers quickly. ~
My elevator mate was obviously not a talker. He kept his eyes focused on the elevator control panel most of the time. I thought he was a kind, gentle and calm person.
I on the other hand, may have been his worst nightmare to be stuck in an elevator with. I’m a speaker--I love to talk!
By the end of our time together we had negotiated our communication styles and become friends.
(I will be honest here and admit that now I survey the people I step into an elevator with- you never know when you may enjoy spending a lot more time with them than you thought. I also will never squeeze in as the-last-one-that-can-fit in a crowded elevator just to save time.)
4. It's All Communication. ~
No one on the outside can hear you when you are trapped in an elevator and you cannot hear them. As Pat continued to try the emergency button, I remembered my husband was waiting for me, so I began texting him. The texts would not go through the steel box I found myself in.
At some point I reached for my phone again to call my husband. Amazingly the call worked and he answered. I blubbered out the story of being trapped in Elevator “E8.”
As he quickly found a manager, a woman’s voice began talking to us through the elevator speaker. There was relief in knowing we were finally being “heard!”
5. What if’s make you crazy! ~
At first I thought this is minor and the elevator would start in a minute, but at about the 30 minute mark I began to think,
What if we are here for hours?
After realizing my phone worked, Pat called his wife. I heard him say to her,
“I am fine …as long as we don’t
fall 40 floors!”
I told him that I had not thought of that and thanked him for giving me that visual that began to loop the What If scenarios in my mind.
6. It's only a story for a minute then
everyone moves on. ~
We began to hear a faint pounding from the outside. This was the first indication that we may actually be freed. When the door was finally forced open, we found ourselves four feet from the landing.
Reaching my arms up, I was swiftly lifted out through the opening and greeted by a grouping of security staff, elevator technicians and my husband.
I remember being handed water, asked if I was okay and in a blur I was back in my room.
Everyone had moved on and the incident was over.
The fact is, when something like this happens, whether it is 40 minutes or 4 days, it is only important because it's happening to you...no one else cares or notices.
It's your story- a quick impact in your life that changes you.
7. You DO have to get back on the horse –
or in my case back in the elevator. ~
The next day I came around the same hallway and pushed the down arrow for an elevator.
Did I really want to get on the same elevator?
Really, Pennie, what are the odds of it happening again? I told myself.
This time the elevator was empty as I stepped in. When the door closed, I quickly realized I didn’t have an empty cup in my hand. I checked to make sure I had my phone. I took a deep breath and the elevator began to move.
This is good, this is good! I thought.
Then the elevator stopped –
ON THE 40TH FLOOR!
My heart raced and my mind went right back to the experience of the day before – the heat, the uncertainty….
The door opened and a happy young couple joined me.
I had the urge to tell them about my experience the day before.
Instead, we did the elevator greeting – you know the quick eye contact, smile and head nod - then we all leaned against our separate sides for the ride to the lobby.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson:
“When you experience an event, it's your story- a quick impact in your life that changes you. How you carry the story and learn from it is the reason for the experience.”
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My intent in sharing this with you is to encourage you to pay attention to the experiences that happen to you and what lessons you gain from them.
Share your thoughts and experiences relating to this post in a comment below . And please feel free to email me at:
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