This morning I was working on a post (not this post) and my phone rang. It was my son. He said, “Hey, Mom.”  I said, “Hey Chip, how’s it going?” In a calm voice he said, “I’m stuck in an elevator.”


The fire department had been called and he was just waiting, more bored than anything, I think. I did the Mom thing and told him to not open the doors. I had heard it could be dangerous to try to crawl out because it could suddenly start back up.  He’s used to me doing the Mom thing now and just replied, “I know, I know.” Then he added something about having seen that in the movies. His phone was breaking up so it was hard to hear everything…probably because he was stuck in a blooming elevator!

I called back a few minutes later and the fireman were there. I could hear them shouting down to him. He said it sounded like they were up above him. Apparently, he was stuck somewhere between the 5th and 6th floors.

Stuck in Elevator


It took a while, but after about 45 minutes, they got him out.

Update: I talked with Chip later today and asked him what he was doing when they finally got him out. He said it was taking so long, he had sat down on the floor, opened his briefcase and was working. After he had been working for a while, he said the doors suddenly opened up and he looked up to see three fireman standing there. I could not stop giggling at the mental image of him sitting in a suit and tie on the floor of the elevator working out of his briefcase. :) What a way to start your workday!

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator? Not a good feeling, is it? I’ve been stuck twice. The first time was when I was a teenager working as a Red Cross volunteer one summer in a hospital. I was only stuck a few minutes that time and magically the elevator started moving again.

The second time was while I was on my honeymoon. We were staying at a well-known resort in Hot Springs, Virginia and were on an elevator in the oldest part of this historic hotel. The elevator suddenly came to a halt and the lights went out. It was pitch black dark and super hot in there, I don’t think the elevator was air-conditioned back then.

We held tight to each other and I could feel my heart pounding out of my chest. We couldn’t see anything since it was so dark. After a while when it appeared no one was coming, we yelled for help. A voice that sounded far away answered back and said they would get help.

After waiting what seemed like forever but was probably just 5 or so minutes, I decided I’d had enough and tried to pry the doors apart. They were hard to open but I managed to pull them apart. We were about 3-4 feet down from the floor overhead and were able to crawl out. Of course, I’ve since read that it’s best to not do that because the elevator could start back up.

Remember THIS scene from the movie, You’ve Got Mail? :)

Stuck in Elevator in You've Got Mail


I bet this happens a lot more than we realize. Have you ever been stuck in an elevator? Where? When? Did it have a phone? Did the lights go out like it did in the elevator we were in? How long were you stuck? How did you get out? Did you crawl out or get rescued? Did you refuse to ride in an elevator for a while afterwards? :)


  1. BamaCarol says:

    Yes, I got stuck at work. I work in IT and we have to work at odd hours and on weekends and holidays some. I had gone into the office on a holiday and got stuck. Fortunately we have guards there all the time so it was only about 10 minutes before he got me out. I work in the old part of our campus and most of the time the elevators are just very slow but this was one day it just stopped all together.

  2. Susan, glad to know Chip is not still hanging about mid-floor.
    Yes, I’ve been stuck in an elevator. It was when I was a teenager. I was at a meeting at an historic hotel in San Antonio. After a session, too many teens crammed into the elevator. It started up, then gradually began to slowly sink. Too much weight! There was a phone, and help was on the way, but it was a Sunday and help wasn’t all that quick. I’m sure we were in the elevator for at least 30 minutes before the help arrived. They eventually got the door open, and the rescue crew had to pull each of us out one at a time through a very small horizontal space. No one was frightened, but rather amused that we had this mini conference in the elevator. The experience didn’t cause me to not want to ride an elevator, but it left me with a distinct awareness of how many people try to get on an elevator. The weight limit is posted for a reason! So that’s my story. Crazy teenagers! ‘-)

    • Sarah, that would have scared me for sure! I would have been so afraid it would fall, with it sinking like that. Must have been a lot of teenagers! I’ve wondered a time or two when I’ve been somewhere after a big event and lots of people are all trying to cram themselves on to the elevator…wondered if that could happen.

  3. Glad he got safely out! Oh yes…me too!! 9 years ago. I had just signed final escrow papers on a new house.Got in the elevator headed for the first floor. Between the 3rd and 4th floors there was a jolt..we stopped, waited and realized that myself and two other employees in that building were stuck. We were rescued after 2 hours…i felt scared, but I remember attempting to comfort the two other women…one had had a heart attack and was having chest pains, and the other was a chain smoker who tried to light up …I spent some time trying to talk her out of it… when we finally climbed up and out, all the employees on the 4th floor began cheering!! We were all ok. I tried to look at it as our 15 minutes of fame!! It never stopped me from going in elevators…wow..this was a blast from the past memory this morning! I love reading your blog and seeing all the creative things you do! Have a wonderful day!

    • Debbie, that sounds like a scene out of a movie! Thank goodness the woman who was having chest pains was okay. Can’t believe the other woman was going to start smoking with someone nearby having a heart attack! Glad everyone got out okay!

  4. I’ve never been stuck but think about it every time I go to the top of the John Hancock Building. (I live in Chicago). Never want that to happen!

  5. Yes, we were stuck with another couple in a very small elevator while in Lucerne, Switzerland. They were trying to talk to us in Italian and we kept saying “Englush, please English”! We were stuck for about 15 minutes and now can laugh all about it.

  6. Oh Susan, I enjoyed this post. I’m glad your son is okay!! I had to chuckle however, when you said you did the mom thing and told him not to crawl out; but my favorite part was that he said, “I know, I know.” :-D This makes me feel so much better because my son says that to me All. The. Time. Of course, I’m always doing the mom thing to him, too, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m just glad to know that other sons say the same thing to their moms. :)

    I don’t think I’ve ever been stuck in an elevator before; I’m sure I would remember if I had. I’m a little bit claustrophobic, so I can imagine that would NOT be fun. Thanks for sharing; I’m glad Chip was rescued quickly.


    • lol Yeah, he knows I’m going to do the Mom thing every time. HA! I can’t help myself. Oh, yes! You would def remember! It’s one of those things that stays with you…every single little detail. Probably that big adrenaline surge etches it in your brain for life. lol

  7. Oh my gosh, Susan!
    Poor Chip! Was he trapped alone in that elevator? I would have died! I am not really claustrophobic but I am sure, getting stuck alone in an elevator would cause me a panic attack!
    That’s why I always take the stairs!
    Ok, I have to admit we (the city I live in) don’t have so many high buildings like you have in the States, so I think the highest floor I had to reach for once in my life was only the 5th, but once I even went up the Eiffel Tower choosing the stairs… :-)
    ~Hugs to you~

  8. I’ve been stuck twice, but what I love about this post is that your son called you to pass the time!

  9. Linda Page says:

    When I was twelve, we lived in Maracaibo, Venezuela where my father worked on a pipeline. We lived in an apartment that was above a strip mall. There was an elevator to access the 3 floors of apartments and a building supervisor that lived in the building. A friend and I got stuck in an elevator for 2 hours, no phone, no air conditioning and the alarm button didn’t work. It took a long time for people to realize that the elevator was stuck. The supervisor was at lunch and then did some errands so we had to wait until he came back to the building. I don’t remember being extremely scared or anything. Because it was during the lunch hour, there wasn’t anyone to hear us yell until people started coming back to their apartments. We only lived in that apartment for another 3-4 months but I never rode that elevator again. Fortunately, that episode didn’t turn me against all elevators…just that one!

  10. We lived on the 17th floor in our apartment building in Chicago and yes I did get stuck on it. It was actually opening up in the wrong spot in between floors. We tried more than one floor and it finally opened in a spot that we could could crawl out and then we walked the stairs up. When I think back about it- it seems crazy! I’m glad Chip’s experience didn’t last too long (cute that he called you)! The worst experience I had in an elevator was when we were headed up to the 65th floor of a building and suddenly it stopped and started going down real fast. I really thought we were freefalling but I guess someone had set off a fire alarm and it automatically sent the elevators down. Scared the holy…. out of me!!

  11. Isn’t that a wonderful resort? They have been bought out by Merriot I believe.
    In our condo building our elevator opened a few inches below the floor and we were easily able to climb out. In my husband office people were stuck in an elevator for over an hour. They forced the doors open and were several feet above the floor. One women decided to climb down, but instead of extending out towards the floor, her body bent under the elevator. When she let go she fell 11 stories down the elevator shaft. She had all or most her body parts ripped off. Needless to say it was fatal. This is why I”ll stay in an elevator, unless there is some professional there to help me/

  12. Oh, good grief…I WILL HAVE nightmares about this….It makes my stomach and feet lurch to even THINK ABOUT IT!! Thank goodness, in your (Chip’s) case all is well that ends well!! franki

  13. Gloria in Pgh says:

    Susan: I am so glad that your son was able to get out of the elevator safely! This is so weird that your post should be about being stuck in an elevator because I was just thinking about that only moments before your email popped into my inbox. I work so anything that I purchase by mail order/Internet I get shipped to my office. I took a box to my car today after I finished lunch and as I was walking up to my car, I was thinking about the elevator in the garage lobby and how I don’t ride it, even with boxes for my car, because it scares me. I park in a parking garage across the street from our building and I usually park on a floor which is only one story up from street level. I park there specifically because I DO NOT want to ride the elevator in the garage lobby. It is often “out of order” and when it does work the doors open really, really slow. The last time I rode it was 9 years ago. It was winter so I was bogged down with boots, heavy winter coat/hat/etc plus my brief case, and shopping bags (Xmas gifts). I stepped onto the elevator and hit the button for my floor which was four stories up from street level. Nothing happened … the door sat open. Then it S L O W L Y started to close. I got such a bad feeling that I stuck my leg in front to stop the door and force it to open. The door stopped closing but stayed half closed. After what seemed like an eternity, the door S L O W L Y opened back up. I jumped out of that sucker vowing NEVER to get in it again. With all that junk, I walked up four flights of stairs to get to my car. Was worth it though … Next day, I came in to work and the elevator was, not surprisingly, “Out of Order.”

  14. I was stuck in an elevator by myself during an Earthquake here in California. I didn’t know it was an Earthquake at the time. I just thought the elevator was having problems. It was pitch black and scary. I banged on the door and someone finally answered. That is when I found out what had happened. What seemed like forever the Firemen came and opened the door. It was 3 or 4 feet above the building floor. The fun part was when the very cute Fireman scooped me up in his arms and carried me out of the elevator!

  15. SharonFromMichigan says:

    Oh boy does that bring back memories! I used to live in Chicago and work in the old Customhouse – ancient elevators – got stuck ALL the time. I went to the small cafeteria to get lunch once and got stuck going back up to my floor. I sat on the floor and ate my lunch while waiting to be rescued! In Michigan the building I work in now has very old elevators that when they get stuck sometimes they fall a bit – now that’s scary. Funny thing is, the elevator is in Detroit and you talk to someone in Battle Creek (about 150 miles away) when you get stuck. I’m glad your son is okay. It can be intimidating and exasperating when someone is not expecting it to happen!

  16. OMGosh!!!! Happy your son is back safely on terra firma! I am terrified on elevators and avoid if at all possible.
    I have been known to walk up over 12 flights to my SIL’s apartment rather than get into her automatic elevator.
    I used to ride them without a thought but at some point ( never got stuck) developed this phobia. I wish every
    elevator has an attendant. OR I could adjust my thinking.
    I remember our college dorm had elevators and we had to run them ourselves! One time I was on alone and
    when it came to a stop at my chosen floor, the President of the College was standing there, waiting to take
    it somewhere. My problem was the darn thing would not stop at the floor but chose to balk and only stop at
    a few feet above or below the floor. I was mortified as I could see the Prez through the glass door. She was very
    gracious and amused and just laughed at my ineptitude. I guess I have always had a love/hate relationship
    with all things that go up and down!!
    Years ago I recall being in NYC and took an elevator up to the Rainbow Room which I think was atop the RCA
    Building. That elevator went up 80 or 90 floors. THEN, after that, one had to ride a rather long escalator to
    actually reach the restaurant. LOL….I quess they ran out of $$$ for the elevator around the 90th floor!

  17. Susan,
    S C A R Y!!!
    So glad your son was able to get out quickly, dear friend!!!
    What a frightening experience YOU had, as well!
    I’ve never been stuck. . .but may take the stairs MORE often now!!!
    If anyone ask why, I’ll tell them I’m trying to stay healthy!!! (wink! wink!)

  18. Oh my gosh, poor guy! I’m glad he made it out safe and sound. I worked in a hospital for several years and my job required me to go up on the floors several times a day. I was leaving L&D, hopped in the elevator and it wouldn’t move. I hit the door open button several times but nothing. It had an emergency call phone that went to our main hospital operator, a woman who was extremely old. She told me she’d send them to help, after me spending about 10 mins. trying to get her to understand exactly which elevator I was in…the hospital had so many. She also called my dept. to explain to my supervisor where I was so I didn’t get in trouble for disappearing lol. The guys showed up, kicked the door and voila, it opened. They said next time just kick the doors, they’ll open. I felt quite silly after that!

  19. Well, I have been stuck in an elevator once with my daughter at the airport but it only lasted a few minutes then started up again. They scariest place we were stuck was under Niagra Falls when we were children. My Mom and Aunt took me and my sister to Niagra Falls. They had group tours and you would go down on an elevator and the go out 3 different tunnels to see the falls falling right in front of you!!! It was great but after we had seen all three places we wanted to go back to the first one. We didn’t realize that our group was the last of the day and all of a sudden all the lights went out!!! It was VERY dark, luckily my Mom had a lighter and we felt our way to the elevator and it was not working!!!! We yelled and screamed and banged on the door and finally a worker heard us and sent the elevator down! I will NEVER forget that trip:):)

  20. So glad everything was O.K.! I was almost stuck in an elevator a couple of weeks ago, but my smart husband figured out a way to get out (the elevator never started to move, after the doors closed). I was very grateful to him! I do remember the scene in “You’ve Got Mail” – it is one of my very favorite movies!!

  21. i fear getting stuck in an elevator every time i get on one…that’s one reason i avoid them if possible. plus, i’m very claustrophobic and would have an anxiety attack if i ever got stuck in one!

    i’m happy your son got rescued and hopefully his employer will read this and know what a dedicated employee he is (LOL)!

  22. Dani & cats says:

    Yeah, I got stuck in a tiny old, old elevator with my parents , brother and 2 large suitcases 30 years ago in a really , really old hotel, located in the middle of Paris / France.We stuck between the floors, they opened the elevator doors so we could see the helpers knees and were able to put the suitcases out , the elevator worked . After that experience we always used the wooden staircase which made a loud noise as well and in our rooms they had a notice on the french doors “not to use the balcony”…. What an adventures vacation that was !!! …

  23. I was about 10 years old. I was on a vacation at my Granny’s house in Germany.I was learning German at a time so I was able to scream for help (in a right language ;)) and explain what happened. To be honest – to this day I never go alone to elevators :)

  24. Another situation like Debbie mentioned, 30 years ago in Syracuse, NY, several people tried getting out of an elevator stuck between floors. One man jumped out and fell to a crouch, lost his balance and fell backwards down the shaft to his death. He was 31 years old. Don’t try to get out if your elevator is stuck between floors.

  25. I was 8 months pregnant, leaving work, when I got stuck with five other people on the 27th floor. There were no cell phones at the time, but there was an alarm button. It took two hours for us to get out. We actually had to leave our elevator and climb onto the top of the elevator next to us. (There was a railing around it.). Imagine, though, a very pregnant lady making a climb like this. Meanwhile, the whole time my husband had been waiting at the train station, and I was not showing up. He was in a panic! He was calling my parents and other family members to ask if they knew my whereabouts. Now, everyone was scared. Well, I became the talk of the office the next day. I actually got a call from the CEO who congratulated me for my calm as a cucumber demeanor. And that was certainly true because everyone else on that elevator thought I was going to give birth prematurely, so I knew I had to be a role model by calming them instead of focusing on myself. All turned out fine. My son was born five weeks later — 8 lbs., 7 ozs. And we have a fun story to tell.

    • pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

      Wow, Donna, that is quite a story. Having to climb onto the top of the next elevator? Eek! That sounds terrifying. I’m glad you have such a good attitude about it, lol. And even your son can tell the story about the time he was stuck in an elevator, while still inside his mommy! :D

    • Wow, so glad you didn’t go into labor, Donna. That’s enough excitement to make someone go into labor! I can’t imagine climbing out like that…so scary!

      • Strangely, I was so eager to get out of that hot, cramped box (and I remember I had to pee) that climbing on top of an elevator seemed to be just fine. There was a railing around it, so it wasn’t too horrible, and we went really slow. Of course, I had to go first so I was kind of the guinea pig. One by one, they would take the elevator up and bring someone down. Although we all worked in the same office building and sort of knew each other, we became a bit closer after that. Thanks for responding; I’ve enjoyed telling the story, although it’s often hard not too embellish it. So far, I’ve been good about that!

  26. pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

    Poor Chip! And poor YOU!!! Yikes, Susan, twice?! And on your honeymoon. eek.

    I would not fare well in that situation. I get all jittery and anxious just thinking about it. I’m very grateful I have never been stuck in an elevator, although on a trip to Disney World once, we were staying at a hotel there and there was this very small, very old, very rickety elevator that we had to use and I was astonished, quite frankly, that there would be such an unpleasant elevator at Disney World. It made me nervous a few times. I’m glad Chip made it out safely. How funny though, you telling him not to try to crawl out in case it started up again. I guess we never stop being mothers, do we? :D Lol. Here he is, a grown man, married, well educated, a professional and a new dad himself, and you tell him not to try to crawl out. Lol!!! I sincerely giggled about that because I’D DO THE SAME THING. Haha. Moms who love their (grown up) kids, eh? Gotta love us. :D

  27. Janet Mills says:

    Yes, I was stuck in an elevator in (the former) Yugoslavia. I was in the hotel, had had breakfast on the 13th floor, and was going to the room to gather my things for a day tour. Got into the elevator alone and the door closed part-way. When I attempted to push the door open again, it shut tightly- with my arm caught in the door and sticking out of the elevator! This was before the days of cell phones, but people knew I was there because my arm was visible. (I was very frightened that I would lose my arm if the elevator decided to move.) I finally managed to get my arm fully inside the elevator and the doors shut tightly. Help was called, but this was the first day of a four-day Yugoslavian holiday, and I wondered when help would come! Eventually, a crew arrived and crawled into the shaft to work on the elevator. Even in a language I don’t speak, I could tell there was much cursing! lol The workers eventually had to hand-lower the elevator, and when it would arrive at each floor, the tour bus driver would be waiting outside, talking to me, telling me to be calm, and that really did help, believe it or not. At one point, I learned that the tour guide had climbed into the shaft with the workmen- that was dedication above and beyond the call of duty, and I was terrified for him. As most people know, that’s how tragedies happen. Finally, after 2 1/2 hours, they were able to get the doors open. There stood the bus driver with a glass of Yugoslavian brandy! Yep, that helped! The tour had waited for me, against my wishes, and off we went- to caves! Not someplace I really wanted to be at the time. I have to say, I still get nervous when I step into an elevator!

    • Wow, Janet! I’m not sure brandy would have been enough for me! Thank the stars above that you got your arm back in…how terrifying! Then to be stuck for over 2 hours. I would have been beside myself. I HATE going in caves since I suffer to a degree with claustrophobia. No way they would have gotten me to go caving after that experience. lol What a story!

  28. Melissa Blaseck says:


    I am glad to hear your son is ok. Elevator entrapments are one of the problems that we face in the industry I work in. I don’t know about other states but in earthquake land (Los Angeles,CA) before you get into an elevator check to see if the elevator permit is the current year. Also, check the phone to make sure it works. It will direct you to security, elevator tech or the fire dept. If it doesn’t have a dial tone, it doesn’t work. Take another elevator.

    This probably won’t give you much relief when you are the one stuck in there. My heart goes out to each and everyone of you that has been stuck in one. It is a very intimidating experience as you can’t control the elevator. It has a mind of it’s own.

    Yes, I have been stuck in an elevator twice, but they were in high rise buildings and I was out in 10-20 minutes. Since i worked for the Office of the building, so I was already trained on how to handle the problem. However, getting stuck in an elevator while touring a historic home in another state that doesn’t have building codes, now that is intimidating.

    Anyways, glad to hear your son is ok. I look forward to your posts, even though I don’t posts comments often, I read most of them. Take care.

    • Thanks, Melissa for all that great advice! It really is intimidating. I was thinking the other day after my son was trapped in one, there’s not much else that we encounter in life that quite compares to it or prepares you for it. You’re going about your business and suddenly you’re being held prisoner in a box and can’t get out. Then there are all those scary movies with elevator scenes playing through your head. I’m sure the outcomes are more often good than bad, but it is definitely intimidating. Thanks again for all those tips!

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