The day the elevator was parked between floors

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 26, 2014, 11:36 PM | comments: 0

A very long time ago, the radio/TV department at Ashland University did a televised auction every other year. If you've ever watched a local PBS station, you probably know what this is. Donors send in all kinds of stuff, from small items to big ticket items like cars, and people call in bids. Some items go in brief, hour-long auctions, others go the length of the event. I don't know if they all do it, but ours was based largely on what they do at WVIZ in Cleveland.

The last auction, ever, was sadly in 1993. I couldn't tell you how much money we raised, but we scored a lot of shiny new and awesome equipment because of it. In fact, for my senior year, we had a digital "cart" system that stored audio on a hard disk and played it back instantly. Trust me, that was a big deal in 1994, and a lot of commercial stations didn't even have that yet.

For us, as students, it was a huge undertaking. All of our departmental classes were cancelled that week, and even some professors outside of the department gave us a break. The fraternities and sororities chipped in, some of the sports teams... it was really fascinating to see so much of the campus come together. An entire hallway was blocked off and locked up as our "warehouse." Most of my duties were fulfilled prior to the start, so I would just pick up shifts directing, running camera or whatever. I think I did phones once, too.

All of those long hours led to a lot of shenanigans. Like any good college campus, this one also had its legends. One of ours was that the ghost of Hugo Young, for which the theater in the building was named for, haunted the building. I don't know if the guy was even dead, or what his significance was, but whatever, it was a good story. It was also a great excuse to do some immature things.

So a friend of mine had an idea, and I was game. Would it be possible to park the freight elevator between floors, and get out of it? She wasn't drunk or anything, and neither was I, but by that point we sure as hell were tired. I can't imagine the building was any older than 30 years at the time, but that elevator was scary as hell.

We went the slow route between the first and second floor, and pulled the e-stop. It stopped with an enormous thud. The rest is fuzzy. I think we had something to stand on in the elevator, and we popped the hatch. Clearly both of us got out, and we exited the shaft on the second floor. At this point we had many good laughs and enjoyed the camaraderie of the situation.

The problem with a prank like this is that you can't really tell anyone about it, but at least we could tell each other. The elevator stayed there for a few days. In retrospect, I hope we didn't have any classmates with accessibility issues, because that building was not ADA friendly, and there was no other way to get to the third floor.

We had our secret, and there was a lot of gossip about it the next week. I suggested it must have been the ghost of Hugo Young, and that stuck for awhile with a few people, until it became just another meaningless and forgotten college prank.


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