Monday, March 19, 2012

When Elevators Attack, Part I

Back in my college days, a lot of craziness occurred. Unfortunately, since this was before the days of cell phone cams and YouTube, most of the antics were unseen to the world. So, now and then, I have to do things the old fashioned way and tell you a story about the time I was at Mississippi Valley State...

If I were to tell you that I almost got killed on an elevator, then you would think that it had fallen, right?

I stayed on the 4th floor of my dormitory during my sophomore year. The previous year, I was on the 3rd floor, so the elevator wasn't much of an option unless we had groceries. However, that extra floor made it worth standing around and waiting on the elevator to come.

This one lazy Saturday, me and the fellas decided we were going to play some basketball. It was me, my roommate Tim and four other guys. We all get on the elevator, press the button and it makes its descent. Between the 1st and 2nd floor, there was an abrupt halt to the elevator and then an alarm.

"What happened?" Tim asked.

"I think it's stuck." I said.

At that moment, one of the other guys spoke up. His name was also Tim, but to avoid confusion, I'll call him Charleston (since that's the city he was from originally). "I can't stay in here!" he yelled.

I looked over my shoulder, not taking Charleston seriously. Being stuck in an elevator didn't seem like a big deal to me at the time. Boy, did he change my mind on that! Charleston pushed his way from the back of the elevator and tried to pry the doors open with his fingers. "I can't stay in here, man!" he yelled again.

By now, the five of us are staring at him and our collective light bulbs have popped on in our heads. This guy is claustrophobic. He can't bare being trapped in this tight spot. Especially with five other people crowding his space. One guy made the mistake of trying to calm him down by putting his hand on Charleston's shoulder. "Dude, chill out!"

The next thing we know, Charleston's arms are flailing around wildly. He struck two of the guys in the face. One guy tried to bear hug him from behind, but Charleston was from the deep country. He displayed the strength of six tractors as he broke out of the bear hug and went into a panic trying to get the doors open. The more he panicked, the more the elevator shook which was making us all nervous. We decided instinctively that we could only do one thing: take him down.

Each of the guys grabbed a limb. You would think that a group of guys putting a man on his stomach would be easy, but not Charleston. He thrashed around like a mad man and busted a few lips in the process. Finally, I put him in the headlock and the guys were able to pull his legs from under him. "Hold him!" started Tim, "Hold that fool!"

Charleston landed on his stomach and we all had a lock on him. It was about 30 seconds into the headlock that I realized that I was actually locked onto Charleston's neck a little too tightly. I felt drool running down my arm and realized that I was choking the dude out. "Whoa!" I thought to myself, "I don't want to 'Radio Raheem' the guy."

(If you don't understand the Radio Raheem reference, then you need Netflix in your life)

I eased up on my headlock and heard a gasp of air come from Charleston. By that time, we heard some voices from outside of the elevator, "Are you all okay?"

"Man, get us out of here before this dude kills us!" Tim yelled.

Within minutes, we heard the scraping of metal against the elevator and then the doors popped open. Once the doors opened, Charleston's fight returned as he scrambled towards daylight. "Be careful coming out, man, or you'll fall into the shaft!" one of the guys said.

Charleston scrambled out and was helped to the floor. Once he got there, he laid on his stomach for at least three-to-five minutes. We all slid out of the elevator, not even thinking that if it started again, that we could be sliced in half. 19-year olds don't fear much.

Once we were all out, the two guys who pryed us out just stared at us and our injuries: two busted lips, a nose bleed, cuts and scratches. "Were you all wrestling in there?"

"Pretty much!" I replied.

I'd almost been killed in an elevator... by a mad man. Not a serial killer type of mad man, but a man who was terrified. They may be more dangerous than a serial killer. I thought that would be one of the wildest stories I'd ever tell from my college days, but little did I know, it would be topped by another story involving an elevator...