COLUMN - Elevator anxiety abated by hokey-pokey

Life is full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, so are buildings. This is likely the reason Otis manufactures elevators that make loud, worry-inducing noises and jittery, worry-inducing movements on purpose to make one entertain the worry-inducing thought that they will, at any given instant, implode.

This thought haunted me one fateful morning. There I was, a lone passenger on a certain elevator in a certain Arts and Journalism Building. The elevator made a horrific beep that made me think the AJ Building was under nuclear attack. Lo and behold, this beep was the "ding" the elevator makes when it gets to each floor. I should have known this; the Nuclear Attack Warning Alarm is probably out of order.

And, of course, the elevator inevitably would not cease to function at that point in time as it was a relatively convenient time for it to do so. An elevator will never malfunction unless circumstances involve you being trapped with any of the following people: your old boss whom you told to kiss your respective behind when you quit; the person who has stolen your parking space every day for the past two years; your ex-counterpart who still has the uncontrollable hots for you; or 27 other individuals who have not been able to fit bathing into their schedules since they arrived at college. If you are alone, an elevator has a chance of getting stuck that is inversely proportional to the number of people who are both nearby and able to help you. Coincidence? I think not.

What, then, causes an elevator to stop, you ask? I am glad you are wondering this, as it is what I plan to tell you. I have here on my computer screen a true story from an informational packet at Ohio State University sent to me by fine human being and OSU Student Tom Viars. In this true story, a student got stuck in an elevator overnight and was later admitted to a mental institution because of the incident. After getting out of the institution, she was killed in a traffic accident. Since then, the cursed elevator has been making "strange" noises and "stopping between floors." [Insert creepy ghost noises here.]

My theory is this: The Elevator Ghost is on a relentless quest to start a poltergeist commune and is taking it upon herself to recruit college students all over the world to re-enact her own twisted fate. Fear not, however, for you too can avoid the peskiness of post-unfortunate-elevator-incident insanity and death by taking the proper steps when The Elevator Ghost attempts to thwart you with her uncanny evilness and predictability.

Proper Step No. 1: Don't panic. This could result in admittance to a mental institution.

Proper Step No. 2: Push the "Call" button. Someone might talk to you through the elaborate and advanced sound system and coax you into thinking that someone will help you soon. Pushing the button with the firefighter's hat on it, though, will make for a faster rescue. Also, it will net you an even faster reprimand from the fire department.

Proper Step No. 3: Do the "Hokey Pokey" and turn yourself around.

Proper Step No. 4: Repeat Proper Step No. 3 as necessary. It will be a while (a "while" defined, in this case, as a Martian year) before someone comes to relieve you of your unfortunate-elevator-incident distress, and you will need something to occupy your time.

Speaking of creepy elevator incidents, I visited Bracken Library recently and found they have four elevators, all with different "ding" pitches. I would not be at all surprised if these "dings" were specifically programmed to play The Twilight Zone Theme if they all arrive at the same floor in succession. If you are the cursed soul to which this happens, stop to think about the evildoing of The Elevator Ghost and whether or not you'd like to spend the next few years of your life in the confines of padded walls.

But above all, don't panic. Just do the "Hokey Pokey," turn yourself around, and take the stairs.


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