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Stuck in a Hotel Lift (True Story)

Hotel Lift

This is a true incident that happened in 1986. This true story about a Hotel Lift I got stuck and spent half an hour doing unimaginable things to make the lift move. I had never seen a building higher than three storeys until that day. I had come to attend a job interview in a multi-storied 5 star hotel in the capital city that day. And what followed that morning, was unimaginable for me, a 19 year old boy coming from a small village.

It was 4:00 am and still dark, as I alighted at the city railway station lighted up with so many tube lights that it looked as if it was day, for my interview at the Hotel that morning at 9:00 am. The moment I got out of the train wearing a pair of pants and a shirt which looked like as it was pressed after I wore it, polished and shining pair of shoes which can be used as a mirror to see ones face, wearing a fairly broad neck tie, and holding a sleek briefcase in one hand, I was probably looking more like a businessman than a job seeker, to the taxi drivers who saw me at the railway station.

Those days, only the learned and business class used to get dressed like how I was wearing that day. The small brief case in my hand had nothing but the dress which I had just changed in the train after the night's journey and some toiletries. All the taxi drivers, seeking customers early morning were attracted to me and they started offering taxi service, where ever I wanted to go at the most affodable fare.

My dad was in the army, and never believed in giving me anything more than the to and fro ticket fare, and just enough money to have two meals enroute. This time it was just a night's journey one way. He had already bought the tickets one way and so, I had just enough for two meals and a return ticket fare in my pocket. I did not want to tell the taxi drivers that I am not a business men they think I am and that, if I take a taxi then I have no money to have dinner that night.

I did not have extra money in my pocket. But, that was not because my dad was poor. It was my father's strong belief that putting more money into my pocket would reduce my abilities to survive in the wild. In fact, every journey I undertook till that day had been in unreserved seats, to learn the harshness of the civil world where I have to live after my dad retires from the army.

Somehow, I managed to get rid of the taxi drivers and sneaked out of the railway station. I looked around and found a bus stop on the deserted road a hundred yards away. I walked up to it. I stood there all alone in the darkness for almost an hour and no bus came that way. I did not know where this hotel was and I was getting a bit worried if I could make it to the hotel for my job interview in time or not.

That is when a cycle rickshaw came that way. I didn't want to miss that golden opportunity. It would cost me less than bus fare. And no one knows me in that city and in the darkness, no one can see a me who looked a businessman, riding a cycle rickshaw either. I got into the rickshaw which had an thin old man driver, who looked as if he has not had a good meal for the months.

A cycle rickshaw is nothing but a Tricycle, which a man pedals like a bicycle and has a hard seat behind, with enough space to seat two people comfortably who can see and enjoy the view all around, during the ride. It also has a retractable canopy like a convertible car, to protect the passengers from the rain and the Sun. But the poor rickshaw driver has no such luxury. It needs no fuel except one man to steer it with his hands and pedal it with his legs, like a bicycle.

A cycle rickshaw is much faster in a crowded city than all other modes of transport because its driver takes you in between all vehicles and even drives over the footpath. And most importantly, the rickshaw fare won't eat into my meals money. The cycle rickshaw dropped me at the gate of the big hotel. It was still dark there was still an hour for the sun to rise.

I had never seen anything bigger than a three story building in my life and here I was standing mesmerized below the 17 storied building, beautifully lit up, sophisticated Hotel. I had to look almost vertically up, to see the top of the super tall hotel building, which looked as if it was going all the way into the heaven. For a moment I stood motionless staring at this monstrous structure.

I started walking in through the big gates of the hotel. I realised, that the time is 5:30 am and my interview is at 9:00 am. The roads had no vehicles. I started thinking, "Will they let me into the hotel three and half hours before the interview time. Do I have to buy a ticket to just enter the hotel? If I buy a hotel ticket, I may have to forgo one meal for the day. So, I turned back and walked to the huge traffic circle just a hundred yards away fromt the hotel.

As I reached the traffic circle garden, I could see an old man watering the plants in the circle. I was feeling thirsty. I asked the old gardner, "Uncle, can I drink some water from that water hose?"

Gardner, "Son, you can drink or take a bath if you want."

I thanked him, washed my face and drank just enough water to quench my thirst and not to make me feel like relieving myself for the next three hours. Then I sat on a concrete bench in the garden with the old man's permission. It started becoming dawn and people were doing their morning walk. I started shivering with cold. That is when I realised that my shoes, shirt and pants were fully drenched in water. I need to change at least my wet shirt which is clinging to my body making me shiver due to the winter climate there.

I opened my brief case and took out my soiled shirt which I had worn whilst travelling in the train the last night and had changed in the morning before leaving the train. I had no choice but to change the shirt because it was too cold that morning and my body had started shivering uncontrollably after a few more minutes. The problem now was, how do I change in public. People and vehicular traffic was picking up.

That is when I saw a small opening inside the thorny but huge bougan villa shrub in the center of the traffic circle garden. For privacy, I went into that small opening and changed my shirt. The boot polish and brush is something my father insists I must carry on any trip. So, I quickly took out my boot brush which I had been forced to carry in my brief case. I sat on the garden bench, got my shoes wiped and spent half an hour polishing my shoes to spend some time. The brushing exercise also was generating heat in my body which helped stop my shivering. I was ready for the interview. I sat on the bench and started rehearsing some interview questions and answers.

It was 7:30 am and the sun was well above the horizon. People started watching me talking to myself. So, I picked up my briefcase and walked towards the Hotel. It was still too early for a 9:00 am interview. I entered the hotel lobby cautiously. No one asked me to buy any ticket and I was happy. This was a first time experience for me. I saw notice on a board which said the interview by the company is in room no 1206. I looked around and saw a the long reception with six counters.

The six reception counters were manned by one woman each and all of them were wearing uniforms. I wondered if they were six sisters. I stood there looking at the gait and grace of the ladies probably around my age. I stood there thinking  who should I ask where room no 1206 is located.

I mustered enough courage, went up to first count to one of the six sisters and asked, "How to go to room no 1206?" She answered, "Sir, Please take the Lift".

I said, "Thank You, madam."

I didn't quite understand what ‘take the lift’ means and I was too shy to ask her again. I went and sat on the sofa in the lobby and kept thinking about it. That is when I noticed some people going and standing next to the wall. And like a miracle, a double door opens, these people go into it and come out as different people after some time. I could not believe what I was seeing. This kept happening over and over again. The people go into the wall, change to some other people and comeout. Sometimes men go in, become women and come out. It was driving me crazy watching this transformation.

Then, I saw a sweeper come and stand next to that steel wall. This man confirmed my doubts. This really was a magic door. As the sweeper stood there, the double doors opened, but no one came out. The sweeper was so scared of entering that room to clean it, that he stood with just one leg inside the room keeping the rest of his body safely outside.

The man cleaned the magic room quickly with a long mop and took his leg out just before the double doors closed and his leg escaped just in time before it got stuck and crushed between those steel doors. A sudden shiver went through my whose body because it was cold climate, the hotel lobby was airconditioned to even lower temperatures and to top it all, I was still wearing a pair of wet pants and socks.

I was so relieved to see the sweeper escape without injuries. That is when I realized that I have already spent almost an hour watching the magic unfold a dozen times, with my eyes wide open. During this time, I did not even notice that the ladies at all the reception counters have changed and six new ladies have taken their place. Amazingly, these six women also wore the same uniform and all of them looked alike to me. That made it 12 sisters in all, working in this hotel. I wondered how many siblings are there in their family because, in those days having 12 children was not uncommon in some household in my village.

Time now was 8:30 am. What is the point waiting endlessly. I went up to another one of the sisters and asked, "Madam, how do I go to room no 1206?"

And once again got the same reply from this lady too, "Take the Lift please, Sir".

I did not understand what is the meaning of Lift, but still I asked, "Where is the lift?"

She pointed towards the magic rooms with those steel double doors on the wall. Not to make myself more embarassed in front of a well dressed lady, I walked towards the general direction she had pointed to. I was also a bit scared of the time running out on me as I walked and stood near the steel doors on the wall. I did not know what to expect and the sweeper episode was still replaying in my mind.

After a few minutes which felt like eternity, the double doors opened, not the one in front of me, but the last one on the other end of the wall. A few people came out of the doors. The moment the people walked away, I ran towards that door. But it closed before I could reach it.

I looked around. "Did someone see me run?"

The six girls at the counter were busy doing something. I shrugged off my embarassment as I desperately hoped that no one had seen me. I didn't understand why these doors opens when anyone else stands in front of them including a sweeper, but won't open when I stand in front of it. I tried standing in front of each of the six doors one by one for over one minute each timed on my dad's old wrist watch which I was wearing. None of the doors opened despite seeing me standing in front of it.

Then, the miracle happened and the double door right in front of me, opened and two people came out. I behaved normally as they walked past me. I looked around if anybody is watching me. No one was. By then the double doors started closing and I jumped into the magic room barely missing getting crushed between those thick heavy steel doors. The double doors closed fully. Nothing was happening after that and I was getting scared of being inside this magic room which looked more like a steel safety vault.

I started thinking, "Will it convert me to a woman, will it be painful, can it revert me back to a male again?"

Pin drop silence inside it and the all steel cramped up space made me feel claustophobic, after being inside for 10 minutes and I started sweating in that chilling cold atmosphere. Then, suddenly the doors opened and I jumped out pushing two people who tried to come inside. I wanted to run far away from that hotel lift. I realised when my mind calmed down, that I am still on the ground floor.

I felt very happy to be outside that steel room. But, I had to make it to my job interview on time. It is already 8:45 am. Where is room number 1206? This place looked exactly the same and the sofas and even the six sisters were there. I looked at the tall mirror at the far end. I happy to see that I was still myself without any change to my body, gender and even my dress was the same.

Even though I was little shaken, I went and asked a sister in uniform at the counter, "Madam, where is room number 1206?"

Her reply was same as the previous receptionist, "Sir, please take the Lift."

Now I was sure, that the steel room is what she is calling the Lift. I went back to one of the steel double doors and stood in front of it once again. After a few minutes the double doors 2 meters away from me opened for a couple who were standing in front of that steel double door. Immediately I too walked fast and entered it with them. Now, I had just about ten minutes to reach 1206 for the interview scheduled at 9:00 am.

Within a few seconds of the double doors closing, I felt some gravity effect on me as the steel room started moving. I felt the gravity change a few seconds later once again after which the double doors opened. The couple disembarked. I kept wondering, how did they make this thing move? Probably, one has to mentally concentrate on the room number one has to reach and this steel room, takes you there. It is all mind power in action. After the couple left and the doors closed, I concentrated on 1206 in my mind with my eyes closed, but felt no gravity change or movement.

I was not ready to give up yet. I had just 8 minutes to go for the interview and I had to reach room no 1206. I tried concentrating hard once again. Voila, I had managed to move the lift after concentrating for more than two more minutes with my excellent mind power. I felt the gravity change this time. I was very happy at my fast learing and instant success. It was not so difficult after all. After a few seconds, I felt the gravity change on my body once again. The double doors opened and two gentle men came in as I walked out of the steel vault. Now I was on a deserted, but well carpetted corridor.

As I stood there not knowing where to go, I saw a waiter passing by. I ran to him and asked, “Can you please help find where is room number 1206? I have to attend an interview there”.

The waiter smiled at me and said, "Sir, you are on the 16th floor. 1206 is on the 12th floor. Please take the lift ".

I did not want him to know that I know exactly how to use the lift. I smiled and said, "Thank You."

I started walking away in the other direction. But, the waiter called me from behind. He opened the lift and stood there to help me out. I had no way out of this and I was forced to enter the Hotel Lift for a third time. I was sweating already as I had barely 5 minutes to go for my interview.

I was alone inside the lift once again. As I had done before, I started concentrating and focusing and even praying to all the Gods I knew. The lift started moving, as I felt the gravity reduce on my body. This time I reasoned it from the gravity change on my body, that the steel vault was moving in the downward direction. I was happy at my improvement. When the double doors opened, I came out to see the same sofa and the same ladies once again. I recognised one of them. Oh no, I was back where I had started. Time now was about 8:56 am and I had just four minutes to reach 1206 for my interview, else all the effort would be a waste.

I shook off all my embarrassment and asked the lady in the nearest reception counter, "Where is room no 1206?"

She said, "On 12th floor Sir. Please take the lift."

I actually felt like giving her a slap. I asked curtly, "Is there a stair anywhere?”

She said curtly acknowledging my rude question to her, without even looking up at me, "Sir, turn right at that corner and walk straight".

I was actually running in the direction even before she finished her sentence. I found the stairs and I ran up 12 floors. By the time I reached the 12th floor, I was panting uncontrollably. There was waiter there, who took me to the door of room no 1206. I waited a minute to get my breath back, knocked the door and entered room no 1206, where a man in a three piece suit was sitting on a luxury revolving chair with a dozen more well dressed people around him.

The man did not show any indication that he had seen me. I was here for interview, with a folder full of my educational certificates in my hand and fully prepared to answer any question thrown at me. I had a tough time controlling my lungs from exploding and my heart from beating out of control after running up the stairs to reach 12th floor in just about 75 seconds flat.

Instead of asking me anything, the man in three piece suite handed over an envelope to me and said, "When can you start."

I said "Right now Sir. I have come for interview".

He said smiling, "I meant when can you join us on job".

I was not sure I heard it right. I stood there emotionless for a few seconds and said, "Sir, I don't know anything about this job".

The gentleman replied, "Don't worry, we will train you". I could hardly believe what I heard that moment. I had just bagged a job. It felt like a dream.

I asked the gentleman, "Sir, but my interview has not happened yet."

The gentleman said, "I have done hundreds of interviews of fresh job seekers. I have never seen someone come in bang on time to the nearest second the way you did today. I don't need to ask you anything more."

As I came out of the room escorted by a waiter, my happiness on landing a job flew away and fear of facing the lift once again, gripped me. As I walked towards the lift, I saw an old couple probably vacating the hotel, walking slowly towards the lift with another waiter carting their luggage ahead of them. I saw him press something and the double door opened. I learned some thing new that instant.

I was curious and continued to watch his hand, after we entered the lift. He pressed the numeral zero on a panel with a lot of numerals placed in two columns and the lift started moving down. I kept looking at the waiter's hands, because now I wanted to learn how to stop the lift before it crashes on reaching the ground floor.