Sunday, June 14, 2015


If you read the "sky mullet" post, you know where we are now.

After the successful "baby osprey dropped mullet" recovery mission, I headed up to my 2nd story classroom to accomplish my official mission... the final cleanup of my classroom.

I was actually looking forward to it as this was the day that I was getting rid of a couple hundred pounds of ancient textbooks and junk. It was all stuff that I had sort of lived with since coming to teach at Cedar Key School 4 years ago.

There were ancient text book sampler kits, battered out of date texts, and even the old smelly blue ink mimeograph machine.
It was going to be a heavy load, so to save the backs of our very hardworking custodial staff, I decided to go get the big rolling dolly cart from the front office.

That would require the elevator and the dolly was usually parked in the front office right next to the elevator.

I stepped into the elevator, pushed 1, and the doors closed.
The elevator began to descend...
... and almost immediately the power went out and the elevator stopped between floors.

In almost complete darkness, I said out loud to no one in particular, "Are you kidding me?"
(There may have been some extra adjectives,adverbs, and acronyms in that statement... it escapes me now.)

I could hear the front office staff talking, and I tried a few, "HELLLLOOO'S" and "HEEEYS", but no one could hear me and I didn't want to sound panicked, because I wasn't.

In fact, it's a testament to my faith in Central Florida Electric Cooperative that I assumed, wrongly, that this power outage would be only a few minutes long.
After all, the causeway into Cedar Key that morning had been lined with CFEC utility trucks working on lines.
Probably a momentary glitch.

Okay, so I was wrong on that last part.

I tried my cell phone, both calls and texts, but there was no reception in the dark heart of the CKS building.
I just thought it was prudent to let people know that I was there.
Just a few nights before, Tosh.O had a video on his show of a guy who had spent 41 hours trapped in an elevator and no one knew he was there.

In the dark, I found the emergency phone door and took out the land line, hoping it was active.
Who checks these things?
It was!
I called the school a couple of times, but there was no change in the muffled conversations of the office folks and no phone was ringing.
(It turns out that in a power outage the school phone system does not work)

I called Central Florida Electric's automated power outage number (had it in my phone contacts) and punched through the robo-answering system until I got a real person who transferred me to the "outage guy".

(I just figured I would get some input from them, since this may be a brief planned outage to allow work to be done.)
No such luck.

I explained where I was and asked if he knew when the power would resume.

"No sir, not planned, we don't know where the problem is at this moment and we are searching the line all the way from Cedar Key to Otter Creek."
Allllrighty then... that's about 22 miles of line.

So, I called my wife and explained the situation with a request to get word to the school.
After she stopped laughing ...
She tried to call them too, but the phone system was out.

She then called Chief Virgil at the Cedar Key Police Department and in no time I could hear the chatter in the front office change from routine stuff to greetings to Virgil and the Fire Department as they explained why they were suddenly there.
(Okay office folks, among the "He's where?"
and "Oh my's", I'm sure I heard laughter too.)

I guess about 40 minutes had gone by since the power shut down when there was a tapping and "Hello" from the second floor.
It was the firefighter guy.
He asked if I was okay, and I told him I was fine, no worries.

In a little while after some clunking and banging from outside, the doors opened to reveal the edge of the 2nd floor just above my head with about 16 inches of clearance.
The firefighter bent down and greeted me.

"Can you get through that?"

Now if this were an obstacle race, I would've counted that wall climb and opening an easy obstacle, but in an obstacle race, you don't get chopped in half if the power suddenly comes back on as you are midway through that narrow opening.

"Yes, I can get up and through that, but I will be guillotined if the power suddenly comes back on while I am there. This elevator was on its way down."

This was not an emergency and I chose discretion as the better part of valor.

"Well, can you get out the ceiling hatch if I open that?

"Hell yes, open that baby up."

He climbed up on the top of the elevator, pulled back the latches, and popped the hatch.

All I had to do was step up on the inner handrail, give a little push to get my arms up and over the rim and I was outta there!

"Good job, are you the gym teacher?"

"Nope, just a science nerd."

I thanked everyone, had a few laughs with the staff, and then took the stairs back up to my room.

From the stairwell, ten minutes after my escape, the power suddenly switched on and I could hear the elevator descending through the wall behind me.
Good call.

It was a memorable Tuesday, and I can now check 
"Escape from elevator" off my bucket list.

And of course, many thanks to Liz, Chief Virgil, and the firefighter whose name I did not get.


robin andrea said...

I am blown away by your cool, calm, and collected handling of this. As a certified claustrophic, I would have been screaming expletives between my hyperventilating cries of panic. I'm glad you have checked this item off your bucket list. Well done, very well done!

Gin said...

And that's why they call him SuperCracker! Kudos! I'm proud to say I know you, even if it's only online.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Robin Andrea has said it all. I would join her in the Sisterhood of Freakout. F-f-f-f-forty minutes of total darkness? Are you kidding me?
And Salute! for knowing you could be julienned by a sudden startup when you were worming your way out.
FC. Stay amongst the living, pls.
With that cool head, I know you will.
How I loathe elevators. I use them only when loaded down or it's more floors than I can climb in the shoes I happen to be wearing. That's a schtun of floors.

R.Powers said...

Dark elevators no problem.
Add a spider and that would have been problematic.
Thank you Robin,Gin, and Zick for the kind words.

R.Powers said...

Dark elevators no problem.
Add a spider and that would have been problematic.
Thank you Robin,Gin, and Zick for the kind words.

Laura L. said...

I wouldn't have minded the dark, but the unknown wait would have got to me. And no way would I have been climbing out.

Now I want to know what other weird things could be on your bucket list &I love your new cover photo.

Mark P said...

Now this is one that took me by surprise. It sounds like a good argument for developing upper body strength.

Sherry Palumbo said...

And they say teaching school is boring.