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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Daisy on July 12, 2009
"Not all scary experiences turn out badly."

Worth the Ride

I didn't want to get on that elevator. Even when I accepted the appointment, I hesitated.

"Your office is on the 40th floor?" I asked.

"Yes, is that a problem?" she asked.

"No, no, of course not." I had been sending out resumes for months. This was the first bite. I couldn't let my claustrophobia hold me back.

The day of the interview, I arrived at the building an hour early. In case my phobia got the best of me, I needed enough time to leisurely walk up forty flights of steps. It was a necessary precaution.

During the week between the call and the scheduled interview, I had gone to all sorts of tall buildings to practice riding on elevators. The first day, I couldn't even get on one. The morning of the second day, I managed to ride up one floor. It took me three more hours to ride it up two. So, in this slow agonizing way, I forced myself to overcome my fear. By the day of the interview, I was certain I could make it to the 40th floor. Well, almost certain.

The anxiety I felt about the impending interview combined with anxiety about the elevators was too much for me to handle.

"Good thing I arrived an hour early." I mumbled to myself as I opened the door to the stairwell.

I started the climb. I took it slowly so as not to sweat. It's never good to appear sweaty at a job interview. About half way up, I felt the need to use the restroom. I reached to open the door for the 22nd floor. It was locked. I walked up to the 23rd floor. Tried the door again. Locked. This time, I changed tactics. I walked down to the 21st floor. Locked. I tried every floor downwards. The 1st floor door was the only door that opened. I ran to the bathroom, barely making it there before my bladder burst.

By now, I had used up close to 40 minutes. I had no choice. I would have to ride the elevator or give up on this job.

I walked towards the bank of elevators. One elevator was designated as 1-30 and the other was designated 30-50. I entered the 1-30 and rode up to the 2nd floor. My heart pounded for the minute it took, but I survived. I exited, rested for a few minutes, then rode the elevator up to the 3rd floor. My heart pounded a little less and again, I survived. Again, I exited and rested a minute. By now, I was starting to feel better. I remembered how I had made it to the 40th floor on one of my practice rides. So, I went all the way up to the 30th floor. When I came out on the 30th floor, I felt proud of myself.

I had 15 minutes to spare. Plenty of time. When the 30-50 elevator door opened, I hummed along to the muzak as I pushed the button for the 40th floor. The elevator doors closed and vibrated. The number 31 flashed on the display, 32...33...34...35...36...37 This was so easy! What did I ever have to fear? I adjusted my purse as I waited for 38 to appear. But it didn't. The elevator jolted and suddenly my worst nightmare had come true. The elevator was stuck!

"Oh my God!" I yelled. I was stuck in an elevator alone! I pushed at all the numbered buttons, the buttons with the arrows pointing inwards and outwards. Nothing helped. I pulled at the doors but they weren't as easy to open as the ones in the movies.

"Help!!" I screamed. "Help! Help! Help!"

I was about to burst into tears when I heard a faint voice.

"Use the emergency phone!" the man's voice shouted from what seemed like miles away.

I grabbed the phone. There were no numbers to punch. Otherwise, I would have called 911.

"Hello? Are you alright?" I had never been so happy to hear a human voice.

"Hello! I am stuck in an elevator...on the 37th floor!"

"Don't worry. We're already on it. Everything's computerized these days and it shouldn't take more than a few minutes."

"Ok, thank you." I answered calmly, even though my pulse sounded like war drums in my head.

As I waited, someone else came on the phone.

"Hi." a gentle woman's voice said. "Frank asked me to keep you company while he fixed the elevator."

"Hi. Thanks. Company would be nice."

"Tell me about yourself. Where did you go to school? What sort of things do you like to do?"

To keep my mind off the decreasing levels of oxygen in the elevator, I started telling her all about myself. How I had recently graduated with an MBA, how I was fascinated by all the cases I had studied and was dying to put some of what I had learned into practice, how I loved challenges and just wished the job market was better so that someone would take a chance on a recent graduate with little work experience.

She responded sympathetically and prompted me with more questions. I told her about competing in high school and college volleyball. I told her about my love for travel and learning about different cultures. I told her of my plans to save money and splurge on one trip every year to some new exotic place. She shared some of her own travel stories and we joked and laughed. She was a great listener and made me forget my predicament. By the time the elevator moved again, I was relaxed and hardly even noticed when the elevator opened onto the 40th floor.

I stepped out, relieved but also relaxed. A woman stepped up to me and in a gentle, familiar voice said "You've got the job."

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