Stuck in the Elevator?

To pee or not to pee


Photo by Julian Myles on Unsplash

I got a text from my mom earlier that she was stuck in an elevator. It’s her building elevator, and it happens now and then. So, I wasn’t massively worried, like if she’d called me from the four hundredth floor of some random skyscraper, but it was unnerving.

It’s a strange feeling, knowing someone you love is stuck in an elevator and not being able to do anything about it. Talk about not being God.

The ancient Greeks made the first elevators, by using pulleys and winches, so they’ve been around a while. They’re an old tech. They’re not in their beta phase, but I still don’t trust them.

So much faith is involved whenever you walk from solid ground into that floating floor. They’re like airplanes, but the pilot is dead, and the autopilot is flying the airship. Every time I walk into one of that suspended boxes, the airplane or the elevator, I think, “If this is my time, then this is my time.”

I’ve read that elevators are safer than cars and yet I never read my driver’s manual. I turn on the engine. I zip around. I’m calm. But, when I get on an elevator, I always make sure the information on the elevator box isn’t too faded to read. I do a little bounce to make sure the equipment is secure. I pray my secular prayer.

A stuck elevator is way less scary than a plummeting elevator, but what if the cable is hanging on by a thread? Or, what if there’s some crazy monkey who fled the zoo? What if that monkey has climbed up to the top and is sawing away the cables with their swiss army knife, just jonesing to kill someone? There’s a reason elevators are featured in horror movies. They have a lot of potential to scare the shit out of you.

My nephews got stuck in that elevator once. They’re men now, and I think they’d do things differently now, but as little kids, they called 911. The ‘What's your emergency person’ asked, “Where are you?” 

They answered, “In the elevator.” 

Elevator operations aren’t connected to anyone but the company named on the elevator box. This is why the number on the box cannot be faded. The police had no idea which elevator my nephews were talking about. Chicago has a lot of elevators, about 22,000 actually.

“Which one?” the operator asked.

“Grandma's,” they answered.


I have a rule that I will not get on an elevator if I have to pee. I am, however, totally prepared to pee on an elevator if I’m stuck. I’ve weighed the shame with the comfort issues thoroughly. I’ve considered my kidneys. 

If I have to pee, I’m not going to be one of those people, grabbing my crotch and squeezing my knees together. I’ve decided I’ll pee in short spurts until the job is done. If you’re thinking, “That’s not possible! You’ve given birth. Your bladder is too weak!” I say I have done enough Kegels in my lifetime to accomplish this heroic task. It’s like lifting a car off of a baby.


At my mom’s building, I take the stairs as much as possible. I keep in excellent shape just for this purpose, even though I read elevators have three types of breaks, each one banking on the others not working. I do squats every day, so I never have to decide whether or not to trust those breaks. If my knees hurt, I have a perfectly soft butt to butt walk up to her apartment.

In my anxiety-riddled mind, being stuck in an elevator is the same as being stuck in an elevator while plummeting to the ground. Did you know that today’s elevators can reach speeds as fast as 3280.84 per minute? That’s too fast for me. I don’t even want to go horizontal at that speed.


I have a friend who is terrified of elevators. I’m going to tell her not to read this article, but I’ll probably forget. I’m going to text her right now before I even finish writing this.

Elevators are scary enough. You don’t need to torture yourself by reading about homocidal escaped monkeys or hanging boxes plummetting at the speed of light. But then again, if it’s your time, it’s your time.