I Got Stuck In A Stairwell (And I Liked It)


Last week, I spent a few days in New York City, watching many months of work come to fruition. As a project manager in the pharmaceutical industry, my colleagues and I had been planning a bioethics-themed symposium for ages. Finally, the event had arrived.

The symposium took place on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center. The views were spectacular.


Things were going well on our first day, but I was anxious. There was a “networking lunch” at noon. Trying to pretend I knew anything about anything compassionate use of medicines for an hour and a half, among some of the country’s foremost ethicists, seemed daunting.

For the first few minutes during lunch, I checked my email in the hallway, doing my best to look busy and important. When I glanced up, I noticed an exit sign.

“I could do a little exploring,” I thought. “Stretch my legs.”

There wasn’t any indication that this was an emergency only exit, so off I scampered into the obviously post-9/11 constructed stairwell. The stairs were wide and well marked with fluorescent tape.

As I descended, I noticed each floor bore signs that read, “Nearest re-entry on floor 36.”

The floors in between had only locked doors, not even a pad to swipe your badge – if you had a badge.

The 36th floor did have a pad, but I decided onward and downward was the way to go. Also I had no badge. No doubt some floor would have public access, and if not, I could piggyback off of one of the people I was bound to see.

And I did see someone. Around floor 20. By then, I was determined to see this thing through. Because surely -surely- I could exit on the ground floor.

The final floors were daunting. There were no doors at all, and large, brightly lit ticker tape signs announcing, “EXIT THIS WAY >>>>>>>>>.”

I finally made it to the ground floor, wobbly-kneed and decidedly damp, only to see this:


Knowing there was a red ‘call if you’re a moron’ phone back on the 11th floor, I turned around and began my long ascent.

When I reached the 4th floor, a tall, brunette man in a fleece jacket appeared.

“Can I help you?” he asked suspiciously.

He looked like Brody from Homeland.

“I’m trapped!” I blurted.

“Yeah. You’re supposed to be on the 40th floor.”

Which is when it hit me. Nicholas Brody had been watching me for forty. Floors.

“Come with me,” he said, leading me to the 5th floor. He looked like he knew 17 ways to kill someone with a rubber band.

Ma'am, you're, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.

Ma’am, you’re, like, not even CLOSE to the 40th floor.

When he opened the 5th floor door and I saw it wasn’t an interrogation room, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Bless you.”

He found someone to babysit me on the way to the proper elevator bank, and when I eventually made it back to the 40th floor, I ducked into a bathroom stall and desperately swabbed my head with toilet paper.

When I felt fairly certain I’d stopped sweating, I emerged from the stall and washed my hands. I looked up to see my entire forehead covered in toilet paper bits.

Guess it coulda been worse.

Guess it coulda been worse.

Have you ever gotten stuck in a compromising position?



45 responses to “I Got Stuck In A Stairwell (And I Liked It)

  1. No doubt he was building up his nerve to finally approach you over the course of all those floors.

  2. When I was 15 I got locked inside a port-a-potty at an outdoors Bryan Adams concert in the middle of summer. It was gross. There were a dozen p-o-potties lined up and probably 40 or 50 people in each line. When I was finally freed I got a round of applause.

  3. I can just see him watching you on the security cameras and wondering what on earth you were doing and where you thought you were going. Good thing they didn’t send you to the basement. That’s where I hear they send the terrorists. That dumb blonde “act” probably saved your life!! 😉

  4. Walking down 40 flights of stairs to avoid the awkwardness of lunch conversation. I could see myself doing that.

  5. Pingback: I Got Stuck In A Stairwell (And I Liked It) | avpp2610

  6. You were probably his entertainment for a while, until he decided he shucks be sure you were only disoriented..:)

  7. HAHAHAHAHA. love it. I constantly get lost, so I’m there with you:-)

  8. I would have done exactly the same! 😉

  9. Hey, you’re still alive! It’s like you were being led around by a service dog that was also a doodle. Completely lost. Lol. Did you fake your way through your thingy okay at least?

  10. “He looked like he knew 17 ways to kill someone with a rubberband.” LOL

    Good thing you’re not claustrophobic. What a crazy adventure.

  11. Ha! I’ve been on these little investigatory walks before, you’d be surprised at how often panicky security people pop up asking “how did you even get here?”

  12. This sounds like something I would definitely do. Good thing I wasn’t there with you, I would have starting panicking immediately. The toilet paper on the face thing at the end just about killed me. AHHH!

  13. Hahaha,,,,Oh how I have missed you,,,,and your funny stories. Thank god I found my way out of my stairwell and found the blog world again!

  14. Although that sounded pretty exhausting, it was tooooooo funny. I could totally picture him watching you thinking … what the hell is going on here??? Too funny.

  15. I’m no go with stairs, owchy knees and hips! So, when my office had a fire drill where we all had to exit through the stairwell, I tried to let everyone ahead of me, but they wouldn’t let me. I spent 20 minutes, that should have taken 5, hanging on the railing and blocking everyone. :/ 😦

  16. Me? Compromising position? Ummmm

  17. Only if you count going into the men’s restroom by mistake… 😉

  18. The good news is you also got your work out in for the day, right? Right?

  19. Haha! That’s the first post of yours I have read. And I do look forward to reading more! (:

  20. We were going to a college ballet at a different campus. I jumped a fence because we saw the ballet truck down the way. A campus guard caught me. In my own campus then it was fine to jump a fence. Here, it was not. Had it not been for 10 people waiting for me and saying “did you find the ballet” I am not certain what would have happened…

  21. So, before you got saved, were you planning to trek up 11 floors and use the phone? Were you going to beat on one of the doors asking someone on the other side to let you in? That’s funny. It should allow you to exit for fire purposes, right? Don’t they have practice drills? then again, the alarms go off on practice too…soooo…

    • That’s EXACTLY what I planned (Project Management Professional here!). But that wouldn’t have made a good blog post, so despite my calves being sore for 4 days, I’d call this whole experience a win.

  22. Pingback: I Got Stuck In A Stairwell (And I Liked It) | BosssyBabe

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