Wednesday, July 19, 2006

L.A.F.D. Rules!

If ever there was a time to be blogging, this was it -- yes, tonight after a late night visit with a friend, I was stuck in an elevator for the first time in my life!

Right now I'm pet/housesitting at Jeffrey and Alan's in Hollywood. As I'm driving up and clickin' the clicker to open the garage gate, I'm thinking about how cool it is to always have a parking space in a condo building with an elevator in Hollywood. Life's good.

I threw out some garbage from my car (okay, I dropped by Mickey D's and had a McChicken sandwich) into the garbage can next to the elevator. Hmmm, I think, it's empty, someone just cleaned the garbage out. I get into the elevator, put my access key in and press 3 and proceed to daydream as I always do in elevators.

Took me a while to realize that there was nothing happening. Nothing.

Press 2. Nothing again. How about 1? Why isn't this thing moving? Hm. Okay, open sesame... oh dear, it's not gonna open either. Did I put the key in right? Yes. Aw, hell. No need for anxiety attacks now, this is why you've had all this emergency training, right? Just breathe.

There's an alarm button there... what does that do? No, no alarm yet, let's use that call button. It says it will flash when the call is answered. It's not flashing. Nothing is happening.

I don't want to alarm anyone yet, so I call Jeffrey in Chicago on his cell phone. It's probably 5:45 his time... well, who knows how early he gets up, but maybe he has the number to the super? Er, manager? Oh wait, these are condos, there is no super/manager, or a super manager for that matter. Hm. Well, it's moot anyway, I get his voice mail... and hot damn if my cell phone isn't flashing "low battery." Hang up fast.

So it's time to press the alarm button. It's a bell like noise and a white light goes off in the elevator each time you press it. Like a Staples Easy Button or something but with sound and light. Oh, I get it. It's an alarm to physically alert someone that there's something wrong with the elevator. It doesn't go anywhere, it just sounds pretty and makes pretty light. Oh shit. Nobody here is awake.

Well, hm. I'm going to wait until 4:00 am then I'm going to use my precious battery juju on 911. Trying to remember the other number they say you should call -- one that starts with 3 because this doesn't feel too emergency like... but what is it? 311? 399? Oh hell. Practice your speech because you're on the clock.

California Highway Patrol picks up after I say "ONE" into the phone.

"Hi, I'm stuck in an elevator at _ _ _ _ N. Fuller Avenue and I'm running out of juice on my phone!" The lady dispatcher says she'll connect me to the fire department and I'm telling her to please hurry... (the nerve of me.)

She connects me right away with the fire guys: "What's the address?" "_ _ _ _ N. Fuller Avenue and my battery's going dead." "What's the number you're calling from?" "It's my cell, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ but I'm running out juice!" At least I got out the address.

"Don't panic, and don't try to get out because you might hurt yourself. We're sending someone out right away."


I finally allow myself to sit on the floor. I did that well, I think to myself. I didn't panic, I acted like a grown-up would. If I had had a baby or a child with me, I would have been the perfect picture of calmness, no claustrophobia in sight at all. As a matter of fact, hm... I start singing: "Raindrops on rose and whiskers on kittens..." No, no, things weren't so bad and I don't know all the lyrics, even though I just sang it with my babysitting charge, Kate, tonight. What was that other one? Oh, yes, from The King and I: "Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, And whistle a happy tune, so no one will suspect I'm afraid." :)

Nah, don't need it... and I'm now I'm giggling because I know I'm gonna blog about this right away.

About ten minutes later, I hear noise. "Ma'am, you all right? Do you have any medical problems?"

I say I'm okay. They yell back: "Ma'am? Are you all right?" So I yell back that I'M OKAY WITH NO MEDICAL PROBLEMS. I'm also thinking of something light to say to ease the tension but then think that maybe that would be an obstruction of justice or something like that -- I stay silent.

They tell me they're working on it, so I start braiding my hair. I know -- braiding my hair? Works better than whistling, I guess.

I hear more male voices. They ask me what floor I'm on -- I say the ground floor. Okay, they're close, better get up. Wish I had put a bra on before I left... oops.

A few minutes later a voice says, "Ma'am, can you push on the door, going from left to right? Push with all your might." I push and groan my Superwoman groan:

"Nothing. Sorry."

"That's okay ma'am." Suddenly the door magically opens: and there are at least five firefighters dressed to the hilt. I'm a bit wowed and must have been grinning a big ole Cheshire smile, but then I remember to be humble and grateful.

"Thank you, thank you!" I say.

There's one among them in jeans and a tank top: "Don't do that again."

"Are you the super?" I say, forgetting there aren't "supers" in LOS ANGELES. "No," he says, "I'm in 101. What happened?"

The head/lead/oldest firefighter tells me there are no stairs to the ground floor, I'll have to go to the first floor from the outside. I thank him because I'm housesitting and have no idea where the stairs are. Then I walk out onto the street with the gang -- there are two huge fire trucks and the at least four more firefighter guys out there. Wow.

"Thank you again," I say. And they all -- well, probably most of them anyway -- wave. Good old L.A.F.D.!

Now I'm thinking about the stairs, as I go in the front door with Michael. I tell him that the elevator call button GOES NO WHERE. He's not happy with that. I almost say some smart ass remark about homeowners fees, but wisely hold my tongue because I'm not wanting to cause stress for my dear Jeffrey and Alan. But I'm sure that will get fixed soon. I mean what if they got someone hysterical (crazy/sick not funny/hilarious) in there?

I say good night and walk up the two flights. Oh goodie, I'm not out of breath -- training with Andrew works! Nero is waiting for me and gets all petted down before I start typing this.

Tomorrow I'll worry about the metaphysical implications of BEING STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR ON THE GROUND FLOOR... oops, guess I just figured it out. Well, I'm going to have a good sleep now... thanks again, L.A.F.D.!