Pickpockets and elevators

JAMES WALKER
Last updated 14:40 10/03/2014

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I've been pickpocketed only once in my life. I've also been stuck an elevator only one time.

It was unfortunate they both happened on the same night.

After an evening out in Barcelona, I had returned to my rented apartment building. I stepped into the old lift, drew the gate closed, and pressed level 4. I made it as far as 3-1/2.

Having never been stuck in a lift before, I was surprised by my reaction. I wasn't panicked; I was intrigued, perhaps even a little excited.

In my mind, I saw the gate of the lift being prised open by the jaws of life in the muscled arms of handsome Spanish firefighters. I would then emerge from the wreckage of the lift wary, but my spirit unbroken.

Deciding it best not to further explore the psychological origins of that train of thought, I quickly pushed the emergency button on the lift's console.

I expected to hear the reassuring voice of the 112 operator, "Hola, Emergencia¿", instead, I heard, "DING-DONG."

I pressed the button again, and again.

The bell rang, again and again.

The emergency button did not connect to help; it rang like a front doorbell. I sounded more like a frenzied courier, than someone in desperate need of emergency assistance.

Crestfallen that my rescue fantasy would not play out and that my neighbours were ignoring my dings for help; I reached for my cellphone. I stuck my hands into my pockets, but came up with nothing, except for the tissue paper that had wrapped the chorizo dog I had eaten on the way home.

Searching for an explanation, I remembered the two young locals who I had met outside my apartment 15 minutes before the ill-fated lift ride. They had wanted a friendly chat and a goodbye hug, and, unknown to me at the time, my wallet and cellphone.

Betrayed by both the lift and my two new amigos; I slumped to the floor of that old Spanish lift. Broke and broken, I fell asleep cursing my willingness to hug strange Europeans.

I was woken, about 20 minutes later, by two Spaniards heading off to work in the morning. Somehow they'd got the lift running, not through any feat of engineering, but by pressing the down button.

They looked at me with pity, assuming I had decided to make the lift floor my bed for the night.

I was going to say, indignantly, "I'm from Down Under, I would never sleep on the floor of an elevator" - but that would not have rung true.

Instead, I stood up, dusted myself off, and said, "I was expecting the fire department, but I guess you'll do."

In spite of my harrowing 39-minute ordeal, I have not given up on lifts. I live in an apartment building and work in a high-rise office, so I don't have a choice (I don't consider the stairs a choice).

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I have, however, decided to put an end to hugging unknown Europeans. No good can come from that.

- Stuff

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