Living Your Truth: A Guide to Elevator Phobias

12 Dec

The other day, I was riding in my building’s elevator when I heard a Bengal tiger attack a family of water buffalos. Our building isn’t fancy enough for elevator music, so I automatically assumed the sound was coming from my stomach. After some investigative reporting (Me: “Stomach, have you been fed?” Stomach: “Yes but I WANT MORE” – my stomach and I agree that open, honest communication is at the core of any healthy relationship) I realized that the sound was actually coming from the elevator itself.

Yes, the elevator was growling and clawing and rattling its way up to the fifth floor and felt the need to keep me informed on just how hard it was working.

(Tip to elevators: you’re never going to get a girl if you’re constantly reminding her how much work is involved in lifting her…)

Normally, I would have found elevator noise to be just slightly unsettling. But, you see, my roommate, Laura, has a full-fledged phobia of elevators.

Recently, she informed me that elevators need to be inspected from time-to-time, and that they must be given a seal of approval in order to continue running.

Laura has been worked up about our building’s elevator because it hasn’t been inspected in over a year. Sometimes, when we ride together in the tiny, rattling shoebox that is our elevator, I watch as her blue eyes get really wide and frantic…kind of like when we’re late to class in the morning because I realize I haven’t seen my green suspenders in a while and MUST locate them that minute, thus spending an extra ten minutes emptying my closet instead of gathering my materials for class.

Because we are roommates, and because I can’t let anyone have “their thing” without taking “their thing” and making it “my thing,” I have decided that I, too, have a phobia of elevators.

When the elevator started making a bunch of noise, my heart started beating rapidly. My palms started sweating, and not in an “oh no, I ate too much curry!” kind of way. This sweat was out of fear.

Luckily, the elevator spared me. But now I had a new fear with which I would have to deal.

So, what do people with phobias do to overcome their phobias? They Google them, of course!

Did you know that Jennifer Love Hewitt has an elevator phobia? Or, that Oprah has an irrational fear of gum? Or that Matthew McCaughey fears revolving doors?

(“You know, revolving doors are really just physical representations of the rotating vortex that we call ‘time’. Alright, alright, alright.” – MM)

Reading about all of these celebrities with phobias was really no help in curing my own newfound phobia…if anything, it made me want to have more phobias, so that I could drop cool facts on a date like, “Hey, you should know that I have the same birthday as Ernest Hemingway and ALSO, I am petrified of gum. Let’s make out.”

I did, however, stumble upon one article that offered genuine advice about what to do whilst stuck in an elevator with your elevator phobia. Let’s address some of my favorite suggestions.

Suggestion 1: Carry a book of crossword puzzles you can take out when you need to.

On tonight’s episode of “Intellectual and Afraid” – five brainiacs, one elevator, and a lot of fear. Will Margaret be able to find the word for “scheme” that begins with an “r”? Because even fear can’t diminish your quest for knowledge…

Suggestion 2: Snap a rubber band on your wrist.

I’m so afraid of this elevator. Let me just physically abuse myself to numb the fear. Oh God, one of my wrist hairs is tangled in the rubber band. Is it normal to have wrist hair? Am I normal? Maybe I should invest in laser hair removal so I can continue to rubber band myself in elevators.

Suggestion five: Pop some strong mints or sour candy in your mouth.

SOS I’m in an elevator but *gulp* thank God *gulp* for these *gulp* mints *gulp*.

I guess this suggestion is partially beneficial because it will leave your breath smelling minty fresh. Which is useful in the event that any of your elevator mates are attractive.

It will be like that Ice Breakers commercial where two incredibly attractive people happen to end up in really close quarters and one or both of the two genetically engineered specimens – we are supposed to believe – has bad breath and needs to pop a mint. You could offer your elevator hottie a mint and then, oh would you look at that! You two are in love! All of New York City bursts into song! One of you realizes you’re the heir to some obscure throne! Hugh Grant pops out of nowhere to officiate your wedding! Amelia Earhart appears and makes a beautiful speech and jokes about how you two met over a mint! Oh Mia, always quick with the wit. Everyone is blissfully happy!

Plus, this method really caters to Oprah by suggesting mints instead of gum.

Suggestion 7: Put a pebble in your shoe and press your foot down on it.

“John, you’ve been hired for the job! Congratulations. Let’s just head up to the 28th floor to sign some paperwork.”

“Sure thing, boss! Let me just run outside and find a pebble to put in my shoe. Or, could I borrow a pebble from your feng shui bamboo plant? I guess I could use a tack, also. Anything that will cause physical pain in my foot!”

Unless your boss is really into masochistic behavior in the workplace, you’re probably better off taking the stairs.

Suggestion 6: Circle all the five-letter words on a newspaper or magazine page.

Because the best way to overcome a fear is to attack it with OCD. OCD is to your fear as the rock is to scissors.

Suggestions #13: Needlepoint or any other type of sewing.

Could you imagine if you were in a crowded elevator and someone started sewing?

“Ouch, ma’am, you just poked with your needle. Do you have to sew in here, it’s very crowded and we’re only riding the elevator two floors.”

If you sew like me, then thirty seconds of sewing will leave you with a thumb attached to some knotted string and a whole lot of stress-induced brow sweat.

I guess that if you were stuck in the elevator for a long period of time and had to fight for survival then having some needles wouldn’t be the worst thing. But it’s not like you’d get a movie deal out of this scenario because The Hunger Games has that genre covered. So this suggestion really isn’t worth it.

Suggestion #6: Carry a prickly hair curler and squeeze it in your hand.

First of all, unless you’re playing Rizzo in a local production of Grease, I’m not sure why you would have any of these lying around:


Secondly, are we sure that Spiky Hair Curler Girl is really a better reputation than Elevator Phobia Girl? I don’t think anyone should have to be associated with a perm to overcome an elevator phobia…that is a high price to pay.

Suggestion #19: Smelling salts.

“No, officer, I swear it’s not cocaine! These are just my elevator salts. I promise, I was totally unaware that you could get high from salts! I was just trying to sniff my fears away.”

Boom, Alcatraz.

And, last but not least:

Suggestion #20: Most importantly, lower your fear by riding an elevator every day!

Grab a duffel bag, fill it with crossword puzzles, rubber bands, mints, pebbles, newspapers, sewing equipment, prickly hair curlers, and questionable salts, and spend your days riding up and down in elevators.

Sure, you may be institutionalized, but at least you’ll be facing your fears!

Which leads me to Suggestion #20 part b: get institutionalized so you never have to ride an elevator ever again.

The Internet is ripe with good advice, you guys. You just have to know where to look.



One Response to “Living Your Truth: A Guide to Elevator Phobias”

  1. Laura December 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I never enter an elevator without a fully charged phone, a water bottle, and a granola bar. Not kidding. Thanks for the moral support Sophie.

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