Kendall Wigoda

What goes up might come down

It’s a completely reasonable expectation when you enter an elevator that you will exit from said elevator in another location, in one piece and in a timely manner.

Elevators go up and down without much fanfare. It is not their job to stand idle, particularly with passengers inside. They are functional not experiential. And the people who own and/or operate them should know that.

Elevators are also built with more than one safety feature because every now and then they go of their rails… literally. Commercial elevator banks have an unwritten agreement with their passengers. Push a button. Wait patiently. Sooner or later an elevator car will arrive and open its doors so passengers can enter. Once passengers have filled the available space, the elevator doors will close and take its passengers up or down according to the floor selection. Passengers may have to go down before they go up or vice versa but it’s a small price to pay for the service.

Sometimes elevators rebel. They just ignore the floor selection request and take passengers off on an unexpected wild goose chase. Sometimes the doors have bad attitudes and behave contrarily. Passengers are mostly non-plussed by that as long as the elevator pulls itself together and gets back to work.

So how is it that two weeks ago, in the middle of the day, I spent 25 minutes with a friend and a stranger stuck in the elevator at the Rananim mall? And despite following the instructions about how to get out, not a soul connected to the mall management came to our rescue.

We had four frantic friends who opted to shop after our coffee group concluded rather than joining us on the elevator. They were calling us regularly in between their calls to Rananim management.

Did you ring the alarm? Of course. In fact, we took turns pushing the alarm button in one to two minute intervals. And we kept it up for at least 10 minutes until we realized that no one was listening.

Did you call the number on the metal plaque above the floor selection panel? Again, yes. Let me save some time here. The number etched into the elevator emergency information panel, in this mall’s elevators, leads you into an abyss of pointless options. You go around and around in an endless cycle of button pushing and no one ever answers.

Did you push the Communication button which is also part of the floor selection panel? Yes, yes, and yes. We had a very nice chat with a woman on the other end of the intercom for about 30 seconds and then she just went away. But since no one responded to our conversation with her, it’s easy to assume that she just tired of the whole mess and went for coffee.

All the while my co-passengers were getting warmer and warmer and increasingly anxious.

Finally, approximately 25 minutes later (and it definitely felt much longer) we heard the sounds of an elevator maintenance crew yelling to us. First, they were trying to get the elevator into a position that was flush with the floor, and second they were trying to open the elevator doors. It took a bit longer but they finally succeeded.

We got out of the elevator hot, stressed and very relieved. There was a small group of people waiting for us. A few curious bystanders, a few employees from nearby stores and a fireman on his day off, who had already called his station to have them send a fire engine to get us out. Everyone wanted to know if we were okay. However, the one person who wasn’t there was a representative from the mall.

After several calls from two angry husbands, and more calls from our four frantic friends, the mall management said they would send “someone” to help us; as if they were doing us a favor by agreeing to get us out of their broken elevator.

As the saying goes, you can learn as much from a negative experience as you can from a positive one. We definitely did. First, always have a full phone battery before getting into an elevator. Second, pack snacks, and third, if you have a sensitive bladder, empty it before you get in. Next, tell someone that you are getting on an elevator so that if you lose contact, that someone will know where to send the search party. 

And finally, and probably most important, if you must go to Caniyon Rananim, use the escalators.

About the Author
I spent 15 years as a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professional in Canada before making Aliyah in 2002. Since then I have written freelance articles for Israeli newspapers, written lots of marketing communication pieces and taught a lot of English. Sometimes life here is funny and sometimes it is sad, but mostly there's a lot of weird and wonderful moments.