I was in Milan for the day, second time in 2 weeks for a meeting in re: to my business. The meeting was going very well lasted about 6 hours. Half way through they ordered in lunch. We had a quick lunch relative to Italian standards and afterward the guy who I was meeting with had to make a quick call. I took that opportunity to run across the street to the small shop to get some Gola ( throat lozenges). I had been sick the week before and all the talking was making me scratchy.
When I returned to the office building there were 4 people waiting for the elevator, of which there were two. These elevators are the tiny tiny kind you find in Europe. They hold 2 normal size people OR 1 person and a luggage. No joke about 2 ft. square. Well these 4 Italians piled into that one like tightly packed sardines, with not an inch to spare, I had no choice but to wait for the other.
The other elevator arrived, I stepped in, pressed 3 ( which is really 4) and the doors shut. Nothing. Hmmm is it really slow or is it not moving? I press 3 again, wait, nothing. I press 0, the ground floor I entered on, nothing. I thought, still calm at this point, is it stuck? Noooo, can't be. Who gets stuck in elevators? Certainly not me. Again I press 0 and nothing. Then it hits me, OMG I'M STUCK IN A FREAKIN TINY ELEVATOR!!!!!! Panic sets in as I am sooooo claustrophobic that I have been know to have full blown panic attacks in a packed subway.
this is not me but this IS the size of the elevator
I start to hyperventilate, frozen afraid to move. I start pressing the alarm non stop, I can hear it ringing, but that's all I hear. I decide to try and open the door from the inside, so with both hands grab it and pull it open .Looking back at me are the interior cogs and pulleys of the elevators outside door, filled with dust and spider webs and I see I am stuck between floors about 4 ft. from the ground floor. THIS did not help calm me. I stand there in the center of the little box, still, very still.
Maybe 5 minutes have now passed and I hear voices. People, there are people out there! Half crying and screaming Aiutami!!! Aiutami!!!! Sono Americana and I'm stuck in the elevator!!!!! I don't know why I felt necessary to say I was American, could have actually worked against me, I didn't know how to say stuck in elevator in Italian, maybe I thought the voices would know to speak English to me then ( if they could) and they did.
"How many are you?", a woman called. I said," just me, I'm alone and very claustrophobic. PLEASE, PLEASE help me", hysterical now. She said they have already alerted the building and someone was coming. I asked how long and she said soon. I asked was that ITALIAN soon or regular soon. Because subito can mean 3 hrs in some cases!
She said she did not know, I could see a small sliver of light between the closed exterior door and the shaft, the same sliver from which I heard her voice. She said she would stay there and talk to me til they came. I kept reiterating the claustrophobia fact and began deep breathing to calm myself. What I really needed was a xanax!!! After about 15 minutes she says," they have called the technician again but it may now be a while." WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY will it be a while??? He was coming from somewhere else.
At the 25 minute mark she tells me the doorman is there, he has found a key for the exterior door. I ask if he can open it and she says maybe BUT maybe it's best to wait for the technician. "Why? What happens if he uses the key?" AND THEN a thought , I gasp WAIT! STOP!I say, " If he opens the door will the elevator fall??" I'm now thinking OMG, is the way I go? In some freak elevator accident in Milan, during a meeting? THAT WOULD SUCK!!!
I repeat," will the elevator fall? "The woman answers, "we don't think so." I said, " You don't think so? Are you not sure?" She says, " No, we are not sure, but we think maybe not, it will not fall." Before I could say stop again I hear the doorman fiddling with the key, my heart is racing and then the door opens. Staring back at me from 4 ft. down are 2 Italian women and the doorman .And then the door closes agains.
They quickly pull it open again, one woman is very tall,like 6', I'm 5'2". She tells the other woman to hold the door open and then extends her arms for me to jump from the elevator 4ft. up into her open arms like a toddler would do at the swimming pool with their parent. I am trying not to laugh at this point, it's all so ridiculous. I jump, she catches me and all is right in the world.
Now the funniest part is who the woman was, but if I tell that now it'll give away why I was in Milan
and I am trying to keep that for the most part on the QT for a while longer. So I will update the identity in a few months :))
I took the stairs back up to the meeting :)