For 30 minutes you have been waiting in your 4th floor Harnwell room. You sit there, stupidly, unaware of the harrowing crisis taking place right outside your room. You don’t know it, but your two best friends, Nate and Rich, are trapped in an elevator. If you did know, you would pass out. Luckily, you don’t know. Let’s hope no one tells you.
Nate and Rich were trapped in the elevator. They were trapped for an entire 38 minutes. The terror of this is incomprehensible. Before this, they didn’t know how far away it is, but now they know it takes around 38 minutes to get to Hell. As you become emotionally “trapped” in this story, know, before you lose hope, that there is a happy ending. It is one of the most inspiring things to ever happen at Penn.
In all, the physical damage amounted to over $120. The psychological costs are incalculable. Over 8 people’s lives were touched. Not just touched; rubbed-down. And on that day, a hero named Jonathan was born.
Shortly after 9 o’clock, Nate and Rich entered an elevator in the Harnwell lobby. Even though they pressed the button for the 4th floor, the elevator began to descend. In total, it descended 4 feet. Then it stopped. Nate and Rich were suspended between Harnwell’s basement and the lobby level.
Getting trapped in an elevator may seem commonplace. About every seven seconds someone gets trapped in an elevator. For this reason, elevators are a social problem. For those in sociology, the problem has too much concrete reality for them to bother with. But for us it is all too real.
When one is stuck, everything changes. Things you once thought mattered, don’t: Finding a wife, pleasing your family, staying healthy – the importance of all this vanishes. One sole thought consumes your mind: You. Survival. The reality of this hits you with the blunt violence of raw-dogging. I must survive. All the girls you ever liked are nothing but a means to reproduction. Your parents are nothing but providers of food. Your friends are nothing but connections to potentially help you make money in the future. And when you get out, everyone regards you differently. Children, cousins, friends – the people who look up to you – they see you in a naked, vulnerable state. They scoff at their ex-role model who now is helpless. It may take years to earn back their respect, and sadly it may be too late. The children might have grown up. They might have already overcome that extremely immature phase where they look up to role models. To not fuck it up anymore, you had best keep buying them video games.
One minute after the door shuts, Rich tries to use his cell phone. He has no service. When you enter an elevator, your cell phone becomes useless. Imagine having to hold onto a 3″ by 1″ rock for about 40 minutes. The only activity you can do is read through old text messages saved in the rock’s memory. Congratulations, you just bought Nokia’s latest rock.
At one point Nate remarks, “We should have taken the stairs.” Nate was alluding to something important. There is a fundamental difference between elevators and stairs. With stairs, there is the possibility of moving in two directions, and you are usually free to pick which way. With elevators, however, you go where it takes you. You have lost your freedom of direction, and that’s when you get stuck. All these obscure, technical theories aside, Nate was probably right about the stairs.
Seven minutes after getting stuck, a man outside the elevator heard their voices. History will remember this man: Jonathan Pines. His hearing is adept. Many failed to hear the two men’s murmurs for help, but Jonathan heard. He single-handedly talked to the victims. He told them “remain calm guys” and then said, “I will go get help.” Then, without even thinking about a reward, he made the trek to the front desk to tell the girl who was working there that two people were trapped in the elevator. The girl knew what to do: she called someone.
Jonathan is not your typical “fireman” hero. Firemen fight fires; Jonathan gives birth to fire. His actions have sparked in others flames of selfless courage, and Jonathan is the tinder.
These crucial acts by Jonathan did not mean the ordeal was over. They were still 31 minutes left. Prolonged isolation like this leads to hallucination. Try to picture it: you keep thinking you’re getting text messages, but no. It is just your phone naturally shifting around in your pocket. You hear a ding – the elevator is opening! No. It is another elevator’s ding. Then it’s the voices. Wow, someone has been right behind you all along! You turn around to get acquainted – whoa! I swear to God he was just there. Nope, sorry. You are hallucinating in an elevator.
You are about to give up. The dings are unbearable. get the fucking food out of the oven. You curse Jonathan: he is no rescuer. He probably just went to take a crap. But suddenly – Oh god it is them! Finally!
After the worst 38 minutes of your life, a two-man rescue team arrives. They pry open the door, and they hand you a small ladder.
Where are they now?
Things are going good for Nate, but not ideal. According to Nate, last week he got coffee with his latest fling, Mary. She didn’t seem all that excited by their conversation like she usually does. Nate suspects there might be someone else. He asked us to interview Mary, but we declined.
Rich continues to stay up late preparing for tests. His health is fading. However, he’s not one to complain.
Jonathan has not done much. Although, he did re-edit his resume to include his role in the event, and a girl from Drexel was impressed by his story.