Value Added

21st March 2002

I’m afraid of heights. My new dentist is in an old building with an elevator that has mesh walls. I didn’t realize the elevator was of the see-through variety until I’d already climbed aboard, pushed my floor, and begun to hum. By the time I noticed the swaying cables of the elevator next to me, it was too late. I was well on my way to the sixth floor.

I concentrated on breathing, closed my eyes, and clutched the railing behind me. The elevator stopped. I stepped forward to the doors, but they didn’t open. I pressed the convenient little “door open” button. Nope. I pressed it with authority. The button ignored me. I watched as the elevator next to me zoomed past with its passengers. They stopped, and disembarked, about five feet above me. My transparent elevator was dangling between floors.

As panic rose in my throat, I pressed the alarm bell. Nothing. I pressed the intercom. Nothing. I glanced around nervously, then yelled at the person behind me on the stairwell. (I could see him, you see. Just as I could see the swaying, decaying cables above me, and the 300-foot drop below me.) He didn’t respond. After about five minutes, another elevator zoomed past me. I yelled out to its occupants.



The elevator stopped between floors!

Are you serious?


A few minutes (hours, millennia) later, the security guard ascended the stairs behind me.

Well, I’ll be. There you are.


I didn’t see you get in. I would have stopped you. They’re doing repair work.

What? What’s wrong with the elevator?

Wasn’t working right.

How? Like, what’s wrong? I mean, OK Can they turn it back on?

Maybe, I’ll see.

Twenty minutes later, I was lying supine on the floor, sweating. The lights came back on, the floor started to hum, and the elevator edged upward.

By the time I got in to my dentist appointment, I was shaking. I had some enamel drilled and some plastic items put in my mouth that weren’t there before. It was almost comforting.

On the way out, the dentist was headed for lunch. He held the elevator door open for me.

I took the stairs.