Laurie and I went up to Baltimore today to see a touring Broadway play, “Ghost”… a musical adaptation of the well-known movie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. The movie… and the play… are most notable because of the lead song, “Unchained Melody” (Oh… my love… my darling… etc.) Really a great song.
After the play, we followed the crowd out to the parking garage, where we had parked before the performance. We had to wait quite a bit… maybe 15 minutes… for the elevator, since we had parked on the 5th level, and the climb was a bit too much for my 75 yr old legs. Finally, the elevator arrived almost in front of us, and we entered, along with about 15 other people. We did put quite a few people on the elevator.
The door closed, and people called out their various floors. We got up to the third floor, and the elevator slowed… and then started to lurch and bump. Lurch, bump, lurch… about 4 times. Finally it stopped. According to the indicator, we were at the 3rd level. Someone said “I want to get out!” in a very insistent tone of voice, so someone pressed the door “open” button, and the door opened on the 3rd level. About 3 people rushed out, looking very fearful. Somebody said, “Anybody else?”, and since I still did not want to climb 2 floors, Laurie and I elected to stay on board.
So, someone pressed the 5 button, the door closed, and we started upward again. After only a few seconds, the lurching started again… continued 3 or 4 times, and then the elevator stopped. The indicator said 4.
Someone tried the “open” button, but that did not work. They pressed a variety of other buttons, and none of them worked. I think all of us realized we were stuck, and we seemed to be in total shock.
After a minute or so, and several more tries with the buttons, some bright soul found the communication controls on the control panel, and made a call. We were all relieved to hear an answering voice. A quick exchange of information ensued, and the voice said to hold on, someone would be right over.
So there we were… about a dozen people, average age about 70, stuck in an elevator.
There was a little restless conversation and one more communication thru the box over the next 10 minutes or so. Very soon, it got hot, and I started to sweat. Some woman kindly handed me a Kleenex. My 75 yr old legs were rapidly giving out, and I wondered about the others… some of whom were several years older than me. I leaned my head against the wall, and about three people asked me if I was OK? I said yes, but in fact, I really wasn’t OK.
I thought about sitting on the floor, but there really was not enough room to do that. It got worse when one of the ladies talked about her sister being claustrophobic. She looked at me and asked, “Are you claustrophobic?” Actually, at that moment, I was, but I said I was OK.
Finally, I thought to myself, “I’ve got to do something. This is driving me crazy. What can I do?”
And then, I had a great idea… something that would distract me and perhaps the other people too. So, in my strong authoritative male voice, I brashly said:
Would it be OK with you folks if I sang a song?
Well, I do have a commanding voice, and I certainly got their attention. I said again, “I’d like to sing a song… would that be OK with you?”
People were staring me as if I were crazy (which I am), and 3 or 4 said “yes”, and one woman said “As long as it’s a happy song!”
I replied: “I have just the song for you.”
So, they were quiet… I cleared my throat, and began, in a very good voice:
I see trees of green… red roses too…
Well, you’ve never seen so many smiles in all your life. It seemed everyone on the elevator recognized the song (that is, “What a Wonderful World”… Louis Armstrong… but I don’t sing like him).
By the middle of the second line, almost everyone on the elevator was singing along with me… all of them with big smiles on their face! I sang all of the verses, and while many people didn’t remember the precise lyrics, the group sing continued until the end. Clearly, everybody was enjoying themselves.
If you don’t know this song, it has very tender and warm music and tones, and wonderfully optimistic lyrics. It’s one of my favorite songs, and I have probably sung this song more than any other.
At the end, there was uproar of applause and cheering, and I felt really good. I had forgotten about my tired old legs. I think everyone realized they had just shared quite an unusual experience in this crowded elevator.
The woman next to me said, “Are you a professional singer?”, and I felt good all over again. I said no, it was just a hobby with me. After this, everyone on the elevator was in a much more upbeat mood, and the conversation over the next 5 minutes or so was quite lively. Since I do like to sing, I started another song, “Try to remember, the kind of September…” and once again, they joined me. But then, I bungled it, and forgot the second line lyrics of the second verse, and started doing “… la la… la la… etc.”. We all laughed.
About this time, we heard some knocking on the door, and it seemed our rescuers had arrived. There was an exchange of words with those outside, so the songs were soon forgotten. After about 5 minutes or so, the doors opened, and we were looking at about 10 firemen, and the opening was between floors, with the 4th level at about my chest in height. We all cheered the firemen.
The firemen really looked good. Many of them were young, and they were all quite buff… they must have a good gym at the firehouse. They also had big smiles on their faces. So, two of the firemen dropped down into the elevator, and they handed down a tool box, which we used as a small step stool. We took turns, with each person stepping up on the tool box, and the two strong firemen in the elevator doing the lifting, and many hands above to catch and lift up. Well, the firemen did indeed “get personal”, if you know what I mean, but I don’t think anyone minded much.
I was the last one out. I turned my back to the door and stepped backward on to the tool box. I had strong hands helping me, but I basically lifted myself up so that my butt was sitting on the outside level above, and my legs dangling in the elevator. From there, I had about a dozen hands lifting me to my feet. I looked around, and saw the firemen, a sheriff’s deputy, and a Univ of Md security person. They were all in a jovial mood.
So, I led a cheer for the firemen, and then Laurie and I went up the stairs to the 5th level and started walking up the driveway to our car. About 3 cars went by, with people leaning out the windows, saying, “Great Song! … Great singing!” So, I felt good all over again all over again.
Getting stuck on an elevator is certainly an obstacle, but, all in all, I think it turned out to be a fun event. The obstacle became an opportunity.
Laurie insisted that she needed to drive home, and I decided not to argue with her. After all, I had made my contribution for the day. In fact, for one shining moment in time, I was…
The Elevator Singer!
 This is a true story that happened, Sunday, April 13, 2014