After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic

I wrote this in 2013 when Alice was still alive; she was having vision problems due to diabetic retinopathy.

This morning I took Alice to her appointment at the Eye Clinic at the University of Minnesota medical complex. Traffic was light, so we were actually early for once.

We took the elevator up to the 9th floor, where it stopped, then went down a floor without opening the door. We pressed the DOOR OPEN button, but nothing happened.

It then began going to each floor, pausing for a brief moment, then going to the next floor, while cheerfully ignoring any button we might try pressing. We got to the bottom, and then began going up, floor by floor, as our button pressing became more creative and insistent, to no avail. Then it went down. Then up.


There were three of us: Alice, myself, and a hospital employee named Mary. We got to know quite a bit about each other, trading childraising war stories and strategies while we went up and down.

With very sporadic cellphone service, and no wifi, our attempts to communicate were limited to the emergency telephone, which thankfully connected us to a nice young man who called our clinic and told them we’d be late. He then called Mary’s department to tell them where she was, as well. A technician from the elevator company was requested.

Mary was glad she was trapped with two people who weren’t freaking out and seemed to have a sense of humor. Before long we were answering the emergency telephone with a cheery, “Good morning! This is Elevator 18; how might we help you?”

After 45 minutes or so, the car lurched, and then climbed directly to floor 9, where the door opened to reveal nice Mr. Elevator Technician.

“Praise God!” I cried out, and we exited quickly. He offered to take Mary to her department on another floor, but she said, “I’m not getting in that elevator again!” She took the stairs.

When we entered the Eye Clinic, all the employees were madly gossiping about “That poor lady stuck on the elevator!” Alice ambled up and waved a hand at them. “That was me!”

They gathered around anxious to hear all the details and treated Alice like a celebrity. They gave her a voucher for 100% off on our parking fee because, “You deserve something nice after all that.”

We took Elevator 19 on the way down, without incident.