How Not to Die in an Elevator (or on an Escalator): 10 Simple Tips


You may not be aware of this (we sure weren’t!) but it’s National Elevator and Escalator Safety Awareness Week. As such, the Department of Buildings is providing a helpful educational program for first and second graders in Chinatown so that they know what to do, like keeping their shoelaces tied, holding onto railings, and relaxing when stuck. But why rely on the kids of Chinatown to help us out in such an event? That hardly seems fair, especially not for them!

Here are 10 easy things even we “adults” (whatever that means) can do to make sure that we survive that next harrowing ‘vator ride. Or escalator, if you’re that kind of person.

1. Before you board any elevator or escalator (a/k/a, a “death scooter”), look around for any other possible means of reaching your destination. Stairs are good, boarding someone else’s back so they can tote you up the stairs is better, as long as you chose your beast wisely. If you determine that there is, indeed, no other means of reaching your intended destination, ask yourself if you want to go there in the first place. Most things above the 2nd floor aren’t really worth it, in our opinion.

2. Choose your clothing wisely. If you insist on wearing long, flowing scarves that billow in your wake, ballooning pirate-sleeved blouses, or trailing veils, you should probably avoid the public anyway, and certainly enclosed spaces.

Also avoid heinous footwear, like Crocs, which have been implicated in a number of escalator-related accidents in which shoes have literally been sucked up, much like delicious tequila. Since elevators are related to escalators, we imagine they both enjoy the flavor. Carry your children, or make them go barefoot. If you’re wearing Crocs yourself, well, you should get over that.

3. Don’t press all the goddamn buttons. Or play that game where you jump up in the air as the elevator changes floors. Do you want to make the elevator gods angry? Plus, your elevator-mates will hate you, and you’ll be the first one to get eaten after 72 hours. Also: Don’t press that “emergency stop” button.

4. Don’t run, jump, roller-skate, or walk backward on an escalator. And don’t be afraid to get off the escalator when it reaches your floor, even if it seems really, really scary to let go of the handrail. Also, take your valium before you go to the mall.

5. Check to see if there’s anyone else on the elevator with you. Are they attractive? If so, you’re in luck! If not, you may be in luck anyway. Last two people on earth, etc. etc…And sex on an elevator makes getting stuck so much more interesting.

6. Hit the alarm bell. Announce that you’re stuck. Scream. Hit the alarm bell again. Scream. This could go on for hours.

7. Hide remaining swigs of backwash-laden water you have in that bottle you bought from the man at the bodega on the corner several hours ago. If any of your elevator-mates come near with that thirsty look in their gleaming, half-mad eyes, shout Pig Latin and fart. Ditto for the 3-day-old half-sandwich you suddenly remember in your bag. You might need that.

8. Use your time wisely! Take a moment to write out your will. Take photos with your (new) friends, which will be so oss on your Facebook page! When in doubt, Tweet. Mark the days off in your own blood on the wall. No, don’t do that.

9. Don’t attempt to get out of the elevator, by either opening the doors or squeezing through a gap between floors. This has never, in the entire history of film noir, gone well. If you’re trapped on the elevator for more than 41 hours, think about how you’ll have beaten this sucker’s accidental record. Like, without even trying. Someone’s gonna want your picture.

10. When you finally get out of the elevator, channel all that postponed-panic into the biggest lawsuit those elevator people have ever seen in their motherfucking lives. Or, get religious, write a book about your experience, and make sure you have a full bottle of water with you next time.

Most people don’t actually die when stuck on elevators, so, seriously, take it easy — it’s about the best excuse you’ll ever have for not doing one of those annoying obligatory things (Go to work? Take out the trash?) that you’d otherwise have no excuse not to do.

By the way, there are 60,000 elevators in the five New York City boroughs and 2,200 escalators. If you see one of them, tell them we said hi.