Give Me a Lift General Nonsense | My Life 09 FEB 2008

ElevatorShame, during the last big power outage that Cape Town experienced a little while ago, Retha got trapped in the lift of her brother’s apartment block. A lift that is about a third of the size of the lifts at my flats, fairly airtight and happened to be stuck between two floors meaning that they couldn’t get the doors open from the inside. To make matters worse in the pitch black darkness, the woman Retha was trapped in the lift with became all panicky and noisy and when Retha finally got her to stop screaming, wanted to desperately smoke despite their low oxygen supply.

Of course, it could have been worse – Retha could have been stuck with a large overweight, sweaty and grabby guy.

I wouldn’t wish this entrapment upon anybody. Truly there can be little more terrifying as standing trapped in the still black darkness between four small walls with the knowledge that you are not going to be rescued any time soon. Claustrophobia is the main culprit here – humans all have an innate need of space and light, something this scenario does not deliver much of.

I kind of wonder how I would respond in that situation. I am no lover of small dark places, but it would be interesting which part of your psyche takes over in that situation. Will your rational side triumph, leaving you calm and collected as you wait for power to be restored, minimising your use of oxygen so as to prevent things like hyperventilation? Will you be calm or intelligent enough to think of a way out? Or will your more emotional side break free, making you take leave of your senses as you desperately try to break free? Will you crack and panic and become irrational?

As horrible as the scenario is, it is a safe scenario in which to find out more about yourself – how you would cope in extreme and dangerous situations. So while I don’t wish it upon anyone, I must contend that it would make for an interesting experience – so long as you aren’t trapped with a big, hairy, sweaty man of course.

In case you were wondering, Retha did eventually get out an hour and a half after her ordeal had started, thanks to the efforts of two dagga high males who inexplicably decided to pry open the lift doors from below. Lucky escape.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.