Yesterday I read this article in The New Yorker, about the secret life of elevators and the story of Nicholas White, who was trapped in one for 41 hours.
Today I read that the security camera video of his ordeal -- originally hosted on The New Yorker's web site -- has become something of an internet sensation. If you haven't seen it, here it is. And if you have, why not take another look? It's odd and compelling stuff.
There's absolutely no reason I shouldn't get in on the some of this fun, too. This blog is about fear, after all, and there's a certain percentage of the population for whom elevators -- and the thought of being trapped in one for 41 seconds, let alone 41 hours -- are nothing short of terrifying.
Despite my own well-documented fear of heights, I'm not one of those people. The thought of hanging hundreds of feet or more above the ground, suspended by only a length of steel cable and the workings of some machinery I know very little about, never crosses my mind. Or if it does, it doesn't bother me.
(This is because I can't see the yawning chasm just below my feet. Also, because there's a floor, a ceiling and four solid walls between me and it. Likewise, I'm not bothered by being inside the high floor of a building, either. I worked on the 42nd floor of the Aon Center for almost five years, and would routinely walk right up to the windows and gaze straight down at the street below. But get me on a balcony on the same floor and... well, you couldn't get me on to a balcony on the same floor.)
No, it's not the height or the possibility of falling or even the confined space of elevators that bother me. It's being so close to all those people.
At any rate, this poor guy was trapped for 41 straight hours -- it ruined his whole weekend. And the rest of his life, too, if the article is to be believed.