Thursday, April 17, 2008

see you later, elevator

As any rational person does, I have a slightly irrational fear of lifts. Possibly for that reason, I found this New Yorker article fascinating. Fascinating, but not entirely reassuring, since the thread that holds the loose series of factoids and anecdotes together is the story of one Nicholas White, who was trapped in a lift in a New York office block for forty-one hours back in 1999.

Watching the CCTV footage (of the speeded-up, time-lapse variety, thankfully) of his ordeal helps pin down the nature of the various competing fears involved - plummeting to your death in a heap of mangled twisted metal, obviously (although, as the article explains, this is phenomenally unlikely unless an aeroplane flies into the building, which is, in turn, just to prove the point, phenomenally unlikely), stepping absent-mindedly into a gaping lift shaft, sure, but also the non-fatal consequences of being trapped, alone, with only your own thoughts for company, until someone finds you. Even if you're not claustrophobic, there's just the sneaking suspicion that the small compartment, possibly with mirrors on the walls, will turn into a kind of Total Perspective Vortex and that by the time you're eventually found, your hair will have turned white and you'll have clawed out your own eyes as your brain turned inside-out and ate itself.

If none of this sounds likely or dangerous enough, you could always try lift-surfing.

Shifting back to the nasty gory deaths with the rending and tearing of flesh for a moment, my lift-based nervousness isn't helped any by film sequences like this one from Final Destination 2 and the one about two minutes into this montage/mashup from Damien: Omen II. Nor, indeed, by actual true stories like this one (oddly, very similar to the incident in the first of the film clips above). Maybe I'll just take the stairs.