Today on my way to a meeting down town I had the unexpected and unique experience of getting stuck in an elevator. This event was nothing like what you might expect from seeing similar scenes on TV. There were no pregnant women. There were no flamboyant characters. There were no interesting characters with chips and hot sauce. There were no attractive females. It was just me in an empty elevator trying to make it to the 9th floor when a sudden loud clang brought things to a screeching halt between 5 and 6. I waited a few minutes to see if things might correct themselves, but when they did not I actually used the little telephone to call for assistance. The young man who answered asked me to try a few things to get the elevator going, but when they failed he agreed to call building maintenance and let them try before they called emergency personnel. After another 10 minutes or so I heard a voice above me announcing help had arrived.
"You comfortable in there?" the voice shouted down.
"Sure," I answered, at first thinking that maybe true comfort was a stretch. But at that point, I was actually okay. I was two under after 11 holes in the golf game on my phone and other than the nagging wish that I had gone to the bathroom before I got on this elevator, I was doing fine.
"Well, I don't think I can get you out right now. I'll try to go up to the tower and operate the car manually. If the door opens, don't get out unless it is at floor level. If it opens between floors and you try to get out it could cut you in half, okay?"
"Got it," I hollered back.
"You're not nervous or anything are you?"
"Not unless you are," I answered believing it. Still, on the 12th hole I shot a triple bogey as I was distracted by thoughts related to jumping at the exact right moment in the event of an elevator free-fall. I think, however, that I remember seeing somewhere that such an idea is a myth.
Finally, after another 15 or 20 minutes the elevator beeped and began moving downward and then stopped on the 5th floor. Then it beeped and went up again and down again a few more times before it finally stopped on the 6th floor. I got out and went to another elevator and attended my late meeting and then took an elevator to the lobby to leave. I shared this ride with a few guys from building maintenance who were discussing the whole matter. I laughed and thanked them for getting me out.
"That was you?" they asked, quite surprised.
"Well, you picked a great time to get stuck. We were downstairs talking to the elevator repairman while he was doing some banking business in the lobby when the call came."
"Well, I was careful," I said.
"Well, thanks for not getting mad."
"No sweat," I said and left.
The whole experience was a little surreal. I have actually helped people out of elevators before when I was an officer at a bank and they were usually pretty upset. Often they were ready to unload on the first person they saw even if that person was the one who saved them rather than the one that invented the elevator.
Perhaps I felt fine because I am not claustrophobic. Perhaps I was just tired. Perhaps I had plenty of other things on my mind. I don't know. But I thought about something for which the guys in my accountability group consistently chide me. They insist they cannot get a rise out of me and that I am just too laid-back. I really don't think of myself that way. I do get excited about things, but I have stopped reacting as strongly as I used to to things, both positively and negatively. Some argue that in the course of my life I have experienced some very low times and some great times and the extremes have left me somewhat emotionally detatched (although just this morning a friend said I was un-detatched). There is probably some truth in that, but I hope there is another element at work here also.
I would like to think that my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I would like to think that youthful angst is getting replaced with peaceful assurance. I would like to think that I am coming to realize that God is in control of this world. I would like to think that I am able to decide how to react to what this world sends my way and that blame or credit for my attitude lies in me rather than events or personalities around me. While these are the responses that I hope become more and more commonplace, I know that truthfully I have a long way to go to get to this high road; even longer now that I intend to take the stairs.