The Work Meeting From Hell, or the Day I Survived Dying In a TINY Parisian Lift

Above is the medal box of Hell at my company’s office in our office in Paris. On Wednesday two colleagues and I got stuck in it. Serves me right. We barely fit in it. It was indeed the smallest elevator I have ever seen, barely wider than my shoulders. Here’s a pic with my co-worker Thomas for scale (he’s very happy he survived being trapped):

The lift/elevator almost made it to the 2nd/3rd floor before the cable started making some horrendous screeching noises and stopped short…and that’s when the panic began. There was barely room to turn around and the space felt like it was decreasing minute by minute. We pried the doors open and unfortunately there was another door that we couldn’t open. It refused to open because the elevator wasn’t lined up properly. I may sound melodramatic but it was the most scared I have ever been and the surest of feeling like I wasn’t going to live through a bad experience, including the day someone almost broke into our house while we were sleeping.

The panic came in waves. The heat and lack of space would get to me if I thought too much about it. Thankfully Thomas was very level-headed and insisted we play Mad Libs. Meanwhile, our team called the fire department and they refused to help because it wasn’t in their job description! Can you believe it?! Team was instructed to call the lift operators but unfortunately the phone number listed in the lift was INCORRECT. Finally our team got in contact with someone and they headed to rescue us, too bad they were coming from a Paris suburb and it would be 45 minutes before we could get out. To keep calm I got out camera out and took some pictures:

And used the iPhone to email Greg, who insisted there should be a safety latch to prevent the elevator from falling. Little did we know that the elevator was starting to slip slowly according to our team members standing in front of the lift (this tidbit of information wasn’t given to us to prevent panic). The lift was ancient. There was no way it had a saftey latch. If the cable gave out we were going down. Thankfully the lift operator showed up and got us out. HALLELUJAH!!!

I finally was introduced to the Paris team and got to take pictures of their office. And after the meeting a team member took us a fast walking tour of the city. Most of Parisians are on holiday during the month of August so I was able to get some great pictures without too many crowds in the background.

This is the view from the Paris office. Lucky buggers have a balcony.

The North American team in front of the iconic Eiffel Tower. My feet were *just* beginning to blister here. No one mentioned a walking tour of the city so of course I hadn’t worn comfy clothes for the trek. Ugh.

Hôtel des Invalides Napoleon’s Tomb. So much prettier in the summer than in the winter. Look, no crowds:

Unfortunately the trip from Hell wasn’t over. We arrived at the station to a horrendous queue:

Our trip home was delayed for 3 hours and I didn’t make it home until 1:30AM. But I did get to enjoy a nice drink on the company’s dime. Well deserved after the awful day I had. But I will say this, my days have been so much brighter since then.

This entry was published on 07/08/2010 at 10:29 AM. It’s filed under Day Trips, life, Picture of the Day, travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

11 thoughts on “The Work Meeting From Hell, or the Day I Survived Dying In a TINY Parisian Lift

  1. Roberta on said:

    You poor dear. Ugh. That would have triggered a panic attack for me. Probably not in the moment, but afterward. I’m glad you are safe.

    • Thank you. The tube was packed with people and very warm today and all I could think about was, “What if the train broke down?” I had to calm myself down and just remember that the chances are slim that I’ll get stuck somewhere as confined again. I hope!

  2. Holy. Crap. Balls. That lift is super tiny – I think the only one I’ve been in that small was in the very old, unrenovated building of my vendor in Manhattan so I can understand your panic at being in it for more than the time it would take to travel between floors! (Much less >45 MINUTES!!!)

    So I’m assuming upon the next trip to the Paris office you’ll be using the stairs? ; )


  3. I have to confess how much entertainment I gleaned from reading this story… But I understand! I’ve been there!–trapped in some sweltering inescapable situation.

    I read an article in The New Yorker about a guy who was trapped in an elevator for over 30 hours, no one knew he was in their and he didn’t have his cellphone or anything as he had just been going for a smoke break. TERRIBLE.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences–tragic and bright.

    • Thirty hours?! I would have fainted several times over. I remember wishing I would faint so I didn’t have to deal with the experience. I’m happy to say that I still take the elevator but not without a small wish for a happy outcome.

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  6. Holy. crap. I just saw this from your seven links!! What the eff?!?

    I’ve definitely been in those tiny (crappy) Parisian elevators — but damn. Glad you made it out so we could meet in London 🙂

  7. So glad I survived that experience. I still get a bit nervous in the tube and the tube lifts when they both get packed.

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