Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stuck Elevator

I can check that experience off my list. Surprising, really, given the number of elevators I've ridden in my lifetime. In my last four years of employment, I've ridden the same five elevators in my Wilshire Boulevard building's elevator bank probably upwards of 1,000 times. Never gotten stuck. Until last week.

Leaving work around 1830 hours with two colleagues when our elevator car jolted to a stop about 2 seconds after it departed the 15th floor. Our building is designed with two elevator banks--floors 1 to 15 and 16 to 22. So we're the top floor of our bank. The lights stayed on, but all of the buttons died. The alarm and intercom buttons worked, so we summoned the ground floor security guard who kindly informed us he would be calling Fujitsu, the elevator maintenance company.

That's great. Except Fujitsu is based in FUCKING TORRANCE and we're in Beverly Hills. It was rush hour, on a weekday, and it was raining. No thanks, my friend, kindly call the LAFD.

No dice, he says. Building policy is to NOT CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, but instead wait for the elevator repair man.

Here's what I'm thinking as I continue this futile argument with the very nice wage-slave nightshift security guard who's simply following written protocol:

I've called the cable company, the phone company, the plumber, the electrician and the exterminator before. (The Gas Co. gets a pass). They show up after many hours, often scratch their heads and tell me (in no particular order) a.) they don't have any idea what's wrong, b.) they don't have "the right part," c.) they have to call the main office to discuss the problem, d.) they have to call their buddy to come help them with the problem or e.) have to come back tomorrow to fix it.

I suspect elevator techs are the same. Clearly, the building's priority is to fix the elevator. My priority is to get the fuck out of the elevator. The LAFD's priority is to get me the fuck out of the elevator and to not give a shit about damaging said elevator to get me out.

So after going round and round with Mr. Security for about 10 minutes, I whipped out the celly and called 911. After being on hold for about four minutes with the CHP's 911 line, I got a live dispatcher on the phone and told her to transfer me to the LAFD, which she did. After a 30 second convo with some LAFD dispatcher in the bowels of OCD, she assured me they were on their way. Which they were.

Less than 10 minutes later I heard voices above and outside the door and LAFD Light Force 61 was on scene and in charge. I relaxed a bit as I knew these guys liked a good challenge and wouldn't leave before we'd been sprung. It took about 45 more minutes, since the building (and its chief engineer) we're being extremely obstructionist and not assisting the LAFD with simple requests like "Where is the elevator room?"

But LF 61 finally located it, cut the power to the elevator and manually raised the car back up to the 15th floor where the doors automatically opened and we walked out. Of course, I took the elevator back to the ground floor. Mechanical lighting striking twice and all that.

As I was pulling out of the parking lot 15 minutes later, Fujitsu was pulling in. Needless to say, Station 61 receive two gallons of premium Dreyer's brand ice cream during their next shift.

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