Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Real Mixed Bag of Tricks: The Elevator

The elevator or lift is another contraption that goes back quite a little ways -- more than 2,000 years for the manual versions and to the mid-1800s for the modern types.

I see their uses -- especially for freight and negotiating tall buildings -- but am also wary of them. Elevators that zoom up and down scores of floors make me physically a little ill. I also don't like small confined spaces.  What goes up must come down, sometimes by a very long drop.  

Elevators are the perfect setting for horror stories, real and imagined, and have been used in every conceivable type of crime story, sitcom and movie. For good reason. Obviously, elevators make a lot of people anxious, and these stories exploit various possibilities from running into someone when getting in or out of one to being trapped and vulnerable, etcetera. 

There's a lot more to be said about elevators, but for now, what's your take on them from personal experience?

Above: Miles Davis' soundtrack for  Louis Malle's 1958 noir classic, Ascenseur pour l'échafaud  / Elevator to the Gallows / Lift to the Scaffold.  

Today's Rune: Joy.


the walking man said...

You will never know what an elevator is until you have been in the shaft on the floor or atop the beam holding the pulleys with one a couple of floors away. That is where you get to see the mechanical portion of that box suspended on cables.

As afr as their literary value...yeah man i can see that.

jodi said...

Erik, I get uneasy in elevators--always have. Used to endure it at the Ren Cen to get to the Top of the Summit for a cocktail. Also a crossword clue involves an up and down man, and the answer is Otis!

Charles Gramlich said...

Makes me think of the new movie, Devil. I haven't seen it yet but the previews suggest a lot of it involves an elevator.

Steve Malley said...

I was in an elevator once when a cable snapped-- it's been an interesting life.

Of course, here in Christchurch that's not much of a problem. To have elevators you'd need buildings of more than one story, and the earthquake got that one... ;-)

Johnny Yen said...

Elevators were the key ingredient in the rise (literally and metaphorically) of skyscrapers in big cities. Elisha Otis' invention of a safety mechanism that assured that an elevator would stop if the cable snapped hastened the spread of elevators, and of course high-rises.

One of the memories men of a certain age (i.e. you and I) have is people smoking on elevators-- or any public conveyance, for that matter.

Lana Gramlich said...

I got stuck in an elevator at Walt Disney World when I was 5. That f*cked me up good for a long time.