There are few things as jarring as your elevator going wonky partway through your descent from a high floor. Yesterday Nellie and I — and no one else, thankfully — were heading downstairs in one of our building’s elevators when, just passed the fifth floor, we felt a wicked shimmy. Immediately the elevator ground to a halt and a loud buzzer went off. Alrighty then. I’ve been stuck in elevators before, and I understand enough about elevator safety features to know we weren’t going to plummet to our doom or anything, so after a few wary seconds of making sure we weren’t moving any further, I pressed the call button.
The person who answered told us she was notifying our security guard and calling the elevator company, who should be there in about ten minutes. Great. We chatted while we waited, wondering which floor we were on. Our security guard came up and yelled to us through the door to sit tight. Which we did. For thirty minutes. Security guy came back to check on us once in a while, and told us he’d been calling the elevator tech to get a move on, and he should be here soon. By this point I was getting kind of annoyed, and maybe a little hungry (I’d been on my way down for a croissant) so I hit the call button again. I explained that it’d been half an hour, and where the ass was this technician anyway, Hamilton? This guy put me on hold — I’ll get back to that in a second — and came back on to tell me the tech was fifteen minutes away, blah blah blah, whatever. I asked him if he could do anything to speed things up and he just gave me a party line scripted answer that no, wait for the tech, he’ll be there shortly, wank wank wank. He was being so dismissive that I think I called him a jerk-off.
After about ten minutes (not fifteen! under-promise/over-deliver works hurrah!) security guy yells through the door that the tech has arrived, he’s gone to fix something, all should be well soon. Moments later the elevator starts moving. Up. Goddammit, I just want a croissant! Whatever. It goes to the 22nd floor…kind of random, sez I, since this is neither our destination nor the floor we came from. We get off to find a crowd of people, not knowing this is an accursed elevator, about to get on. We warn them that this elevator might not really be in fighting trim right now, and to send it away. They do, and we walk home to have pancakes instead. All’s well, we call security guy to thank him, and burn a tiny effigy of ThyssenKrupp‘s headquarters. After all, it’s not as if this is the first problem we’ve had with our elevators…they’ve ranged from quirky (doors don’t open for 60 seconds sometimes) to completely inoperative (leading to massive lineups, delays and kvetching) ever since we moved in. It’s probably been the biggest common complaint I’ve heard from other owners, and it sounds as if we’re not the first people to be trapped like this…security guy knew the drill well enough to ask for our suite number because he figured the chairman of the condo board would probably want to give us a call.
Anyway, back to the hold music: this might have been the worst part. I should point out that I don’t think Thyssen-Krupp owns the call centre where my elevator call terminated…it sounded like a security company who then contacts the elevator tech, but the operators certainly know the calls are coming from people trapped in elevators. I know the ins and outs of call centre mechanics well enough to know that putting people on hold is unavoidable, so I don’t mind it like some people do, but here’s the thing: there are times when hold music doesn’t make sense. I wasn’t calling to ask about your store hours, I was calling because I was trapped in a steel box suspended 60 feet off the ground. In such a situation I do not need to hear — and I am not making this up — a tinkly Muzak version of “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong”. I would like to hear beeping, or an occasional voice telling me someone would be right with me, or something else that suggests urgency on the part of the people tasked with getting me out of said dangling box, not the instrumental dreck I’d expect if I called Sears to buy an ottoman.
Now, about that croissant…