SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Never Trust An Elevator, And Other Phobias



January 07, 2014
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska -
Like a lot of people, I have a few phobias.
jpg Dave Kiffer

Most notably I suffer from “lockabladderphobia.” Also known as being stuck in an elevator and having to go the bathroom. Granted it’s a rare one. Just remember, we are all SPECIAL in our own way! And, for those of you playing along at home, your results may vary.

But I also have some more common fears.

I have a slight fear of heights.

Enough of one that I refuse any and all offers to work as the person who changes the light bulb on top of the Empire State Building. Or any light bulb higher than a step stool for that matter.

I am also mildly claustrophobic.

Enough that when friends suggest I spelunk with them at El Capitan or elsewhere deeper than an average molehill, I demure, saying that I have to wait at home for the Publishers Clearing House gang to arrive with my check.

Along those lines, I also have a slight fear that sudden wealth will irreparably change me.

Not really.

I just wanted to say that because it makes me sound less shallow. I am more than willing to take THAT one for the team.

So anyway, I was once horrified to find myself inside the Gateway Arch in St. Louis riding its rickety “funicular” to the top. (It’s really more of a tram than a funicular, but funicular just sounds cooler).

Actually the height wasn’t the issue in the Arch. I have been to the top of several much, much higher buildings. I just don’t get closer than about 100 feet from the edge.

But the fact that the tram was a blacked out washing machine sized container built for five people (we sat knee to knee to knee) creeping slowly along on what felt like an 18th century cog railway swinging like the cars of a Ferris wheel, made for the longest several minutes of my life.

In fact, if it wasn’t for the reality of an 80 year old woman sitting across from me brandishing her umbrella inches from my nose in a threatening manner, I probably would have gone completely bat song bonkers.

After all, if opening an umbrella indoors is considered bad luck, just imagine how bad everyone’s luck would be if an umbrella was deployed in a washing machine slowly rocking back and forth nearly 600 feet off the ground.

Not pretty.

Of course we eventually made it to the top.

Then I was faced with the horrifying realization that I would have to get back in the washing machine for the trip back down. I was wondering if it was possible to skip the rinse cycle and speed things up a bit.

Which reminds me of an old joke we used to tell about the Space Needle.

How much does it cost to ride up the Space Needle?

Only $5. But they charge you $20 to ride back down!

But I digress.

Well, I managed to make it back down the Arch without going completely starkers, but I made a mental note to never do that again. Some things do not need to be repeated for a higher sampling size.

So, about this fear of being stuck in an elevator with a full bladder?

Fortunately that sort of thing is not likely in Ketchikan, because, well because there just aren’t that many elevators trips per capita, unless – of course – you live in one of the giant concrete boxes on the West End.

Yet, recently, I was in need of a visit to the bathroom where I work. I went down the hall only to discover that the nearest bathroom was out of order. So I needed to go to a different floor.

Naturally, in typical guy fashion, I had waited until the last possible minute and my bladder was intensely full.

There are numerous more colorful ways to express that condition, but since this is a family website I will forgo those. Let’s just say some of them involve back teeth and high tides!

It is probably also no surprise to the women out there that guys put off going to the little boys room until it is almost too late. You know that we do the same thing with trips to the doctor. And then we have the temerity to make you carve “I told you I was sick” on our tombstones. Go figure.

Anyway, I had delayed going to the bathroom as long as possible and now I had to take an elevator to another floor.


Standing at the elevator door, I pulled up my big boy pants and entered the elevator.

The door closed.

Half way between the first and second floor (the entire run of this particular elevator) the elevator went dark and the power went off.

I was trapped!!

My phobia immediately kicked in.

Sweat begin to pour off my head.

My hands began to shake

I began to make that weird twitch of my head and neck that always happens when I inadvertently bite down on a fish hook.

Well, maybe not that. But you get the general idea.

I even found myself frantically peering around the elevator wondering if there was a hole that could I use so that when they found me wasted away on the elevator floor hours later at least it would not have looked like I had gone to the bathroom in the elevator.

Then just as suddenly there was a click and the lights came back on as the building’s emergency generator kicked in. I was still worried that I be would stuck between floors and have to do that weird lumbago dance where you pry open the doors with your nose and then use your chin to pull yourself up to the next floor.

Fortunately, it turned out the odds were ever in my favor and when I pushed the second floor button the elevator continued its northward voyage without incident.

Once on the second floor, I stepped out and began gingerly walking (it wasn’t really a walk, it was more like some weird Hollywood movie version of a two legged crab shuffle) to the bathroom because, by now, my back teeth truly were….. Uh, well, let’s just say it was time to go.

I got to the bathroom and desperately pulled on the door.

It was locked. The upstairs bathroom was in use.



On the Web:

More Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2014

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2014
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska