It happened yesterday, April 9, 2008, at around 6:30pm Manila time in one of the elevators in CyberOne Eastwood Libis, Quezon City. Three of my officemates were on their way home. I decided to join them on their way down to buy some snacks at 7-11.
Our office is on the 6th floor, which is the last office floor served downwards by the elevator when coming from the 17th floor (and conversely, the first office floor served from the 2nd floor upwards). 6:30pm is a logoff rush hour so by the time the elevators reach our floor, it would be full with employees also on their way home — or like me, going out to buy snacks or dinner.
After a fully packed elevator opened for us, we decided to take the stairs down to the 5th level parking where there’s an often free elevator because it served only the ground floor and the parking levels of the building (the 3 basement parking levels, the 4th level parking and the 5th level parking.). As soon as we approached the elevator, it was empty and ready for us. We were joined by a maintenance personnel working for the building so there were five of us total in the elevator. All of us were going to the ground floor.
On its way down, the elevator suddenly jerked to a stop on the 2nd floor. Instantly, there was a moment of silence. The elevator jammed and we just needed to affirm it. The maintenance guy said, "Stock up," and that was enough to snap us all back in to proper perspective.
Unlike the other elevators of the building, this elevator and it’s adjacent car do not serve the 2nd floor. According to the maintenance guy with us, the elevator doors may not be easily opened even from the outside because the doors would actually be facing a wall of a shoe store. CyberOne has a CyberMall on its first two floors.
With presence of mind, the maintenance guy pressed the call button to report our situation to the building security. He also had a radio with him so he could contact those who may help us. They first tried to reset the elevator’s system but it didn’t work. Unfortunately, the maintenance guy ( I think they called him Ding) had no keys with him for the elevator’s on-board control so he really couldn’t do much.
It was getting hot inside the elevator car. Most of us were perspiring already. Thank God we had Ding with us.
Using the adjacent elevator to reach us, Edgar, another maintenance personnel, arrived on to our elevator car’s roof which, as it turned out, had a middle section that could be opened. Edgar removed the roof/ceiling and gave Ding the keys to the on-board elevator controls.
Ding coordinated with the building security/maintenance to try re-starting the elevator in auto or manual mode.
"Perhaps the emergency break is still active."
Someone suggested a ladder and it was on its way.
"Perhaps the elevator’s main control is not set to manual."
The ladder arrived.
"Let’s try the auto mode, again."
Still, nothing happened. The elevator was officially broken. After a few more futile attempts with the elevator’s system, it was time to seriously consider "walking" our way out.
The ladder was brought down so that my officemates and I could climb up to the elevator car’s roof. I was the last to climb up leaving Ding behind, who had to stay behind to figure out what’s wrong with the elevator. Last I heard from his radio, they would try to reset the elevator’s power source. Meanwhile, we had to be "rescued" to safety first.
On that elevator roof, we crossed to the adjacent elevator’s roof. It was reassuring to see and hold on to thick sheets, bars and cords of steel. We were joined by some maintenance and security personnel for our ride down to the ground floor. It was scary and exciting at the same time being on the roof of a descending elevator. "Just like in the movies," I thought.
30 minutes later, since the elevator got jammed, we were walking on the grounds of CyberMall. The maintenance and security personnel involved apologized for the inconvenience. We were grateful for their work to get us out of the unfortunate situation safe and sound.
Well, there’s always a first time, but for this one, hopefully, it would also be the last.