Elevator Ride to Another World
a true tale
This true story is one which I wrote for and submitted to Weird N.J. magazine in mid-2002. The story was eventually published, albeit in a somewhat shorter, edited form (due to space) as a two-page article (complete with an eerie illustration) entitled An Elevator Ride to the Other Side in issue #21 of Weird N.J. magazine, in September 2003.
A bit more background: Weird N.J. magazine is a small journal based in the state of New Jersey (on the East Coast in the USA), and its theme is all the weird and strange things which happen, and have happened, in New Jersey and just over the border in New York state as well over the past few hundred years. Outside of part of the Southern/western tier of NY State, a few valleys in West Virginia, and a slice of North Central California near Santa Cruz, New Jersey is widely considered to be by far the weirdest region, and, in fact, the weirdest state in the USA, with a strong history of weird occurrences going back hundreds of years.
Weird N.J.'s website may be found at http://www.weirdnj.com
I currently live in the state of Maryland. However, in 1974, I was living in Rockland County, NY, where I had grown up, and just 1 mile from Mahwah, NJ, which, by the way, had a pretty strange reputation as I grew up in the fifties and sixties! At that time, in the mid-seventies, I had an educational background largely in electrical engineering and the sciences, and I was working at the time for a small elevator maintenance company in the Morristown, NJ area. I have long ago left electronics as a vocation, and after about a half-dozen career changes, now work primarily as a remote spiritual healer from my home in Maryland. Hopping back to 1974, the company for which I then worked serviced elevators under elevator maintenance contracts, and also performed upgrades to elevators, which primarily involved modernizing the elevator cars and the elevator control electronics, which were often located in a roof-top or basement room near the elevator shaft), to digital technology. I worked as a technical specialist, and was primarily involved in long-term elevator upgrade contracts. I rarely handled trouble calls or repairs, as that function was essentially served by another unit of the company. However, at certain times when the upgrade contracts were slow or when a repair call came in for an elevator in a building nearby where the upgrade crews were working, the upgrade technicians were sometimes asked to step in and handle a trouble call or two.
A Service Call
One such call came in during the Fall of 1974. I had been working as part of a small crew upgrading elevators in public housing projects in South Orange, NJ, when a repair call came in to the company in early afternoon from a veteran’s hospital in a nearby city. Since our crew was already in the area, our office called me and asked me to drive over to the veteran’s hospital. The dispatcher at our main office indicated on the phone that this call was a bit strange, and that some extra sensitivity might need to be exercised in investigating it. I was told that I was being given the call because I was not only working nearby but had a wide background in electronics and troubleshooting weird problems. I hopped into my Toyota pickup truck and headed over to the veteran’s hospital, which was in or near Irvington, NJ, not far from Newark. Unfortunately, due to the passage of time and my only-superficial knowledge of the Oranges (Orange, East Orange, South Orange) and the Newark area, I can no longer recall exactly where the hospital was located, but it was most likely in or near Hillside or Irvington, NJ. There is a rather small chance that it was in or very near East Orange instead. In any case the town centers for each of these cities are barely 4 miles apart, so this is not a really large margin of error!
I quickly located the hospital, and, as I recall, it appeared to be either four or five stories high (I cannot recall for sure) and with an exterior largely composed of light colored brick or stone. I recall that it appeared that it had been likely built in the forties or fifties, or even in the early sixties. Once inside the hospital, I located the administrator who had placed the trouble call and asked him for details. He seem a bit embarrassed and perplexed, and took me aside and explained that one of his employees, a very serious, sincere, intelligent and hard-working nursing supervisor, had reported a very strange experience shortly after returning from her lunch break that day. He carefully informed me that she was a very truthful and stable person, and that he was asking us to research her claim thoroughly and politely, despite it’s bizarreness. Further, he told me, she had been working as a nursing supervisor for years, and had been working in this building for at least 14 years non-stop, and was therefore extremely familiar with every floor of the building. He also informed me, since I has never visited this building before, that the veteran’s hospital was the sole occupant of the building, and always had been, and that the building consisted of five (or was it four?… time does strange things to memory…) floors at and above ground level, as well as a basement.
Apparently the nursing supervisor had been using one of the two centrally-located elevators in early afternoon to travel from the third floor to the first floor, when (so she related to him) the elevator stopped between the second floor and the first floor at a floor which she “had never seen before”. From what he recalled of her report, the floor was totally unfamiliar, as were the people and even the lighting, which seemed somewhat blue (“bluish”). Further, she had reported that the walls and floor were somewhat blue or violet in color as well. She had apparently reported to her manager that she had stepped off the elevator briefly, and then quickly returned to it when she realized that she did not recognize the floor or its inhabitants. Apparently, she had then turned in her strange trouble report to her manager shortly thereafter, and that is why our company was then called, for we serviced the elevators under contract.
After obtaining my promise to treat this report and the reportee seriously, the administrator then paged the nursing supervisor who had turned in the report. She showed up in his office within a few minutes. She appeared to be in her late thirties or early forties, and appeared as well to be quite sober and straight-laced. There was little reason to suspect alcohol or drug use, and, in any case, her breath, which I carefully checked surreptitiously, did not smell of alcohol.
The nursing supervisor quickly told much the same tale as her boss had just related, but with a few further deatilas. She had been descending on the elevator (the northernmost of two elevators) to the first floor when the elevator made an “unexpected” stop at a floor which she did not recognize, below the second floor, and above the first floor, and populated with bustling people whom she did not recognize and had never seen before. She further mentioned that the people “looked strange” and “were dressed strangely”. The floor did not appear to be a hospital floor (unlike the actual floors in the building) and the lighting on the floor appeared rather blue. As noted before, she reported that the people and their clothing were slightly funny-looking, although she could not quite put her finger on what caused that perception. She indicated as well that the floors and walls had seemed somewhat blue or violet as well, and that the furnishings and appearance of the whole floor seemed a bit alien or strange. Lastly, she mentioned that the floor was brightly lit (blue…) and seemed chock-full of modernistic “high-tech” equipment and machines, all of which appeared electronic in nature. She iterated, much as her boss had already assured me, that she had worked in this building in a nursing capacity for 14 years, and had been a shift supervisor for many of those years. She stated that she was extremely familiar with each floor of the hospital, and even with the basement, as she gone to the basement more than once to find maintenance personnel, and knew intimately what each floor looked like. Further, she reported that she knew almost all the employees of the hospital at least by sight if not by name.
The nursing supervisor also assured us that she did not drink alcohol or use drugs, and that she was not going senile. Stranger, she related, she had heard rumors that another employee had reported a similar experience a few weeks ago, although she knew no further details of that incident, nor did her boss or his secretary. Both assured me that the veteran’s hospital was the only occupant of the building, and owned it, and that there was no construction going on. Further, they assured me that the building was free-standing, and not in any way connected to any nearby structures (which I had already ascertained while parking my car.) At this point, the two hospital staffers escorted me to the elevator in question, and after answering a few questions about how to find the elevator control room, left me to my own devices to research the problem. Before we parted, the administrator made me promise to report my findings directly to him before I left the building, and recorded my name and a contact phone number where he could reach me.
Checking it Out
My investigation of the reported problem was rather simple and straightforward. First, I went outside, stood in front of the building and counted the number of floors by counting windows (yes, the right number), and noted whether the vertical distance between the windows on any two adjacent floors might be extra-far, far enough to allow an extra hidden floor. However, all the floors were evenly spaced, but for the fact that the first floor had much higher ceilings than the other floors, and this was reflected perfectly in the external window configuration.
I then went into the elevator, and took a ride to the top floor, stopping at every floor. I noted no buttons for any anomalous or extra floors on the elevator panel (can’t rule out anything prematurely, you know!), and each floor I found appeared to be quite a normal hospital floor. The elevator itself and it’s controls seemed to function quite smoothly and efficiently. I then took the elevator to the top floor, and traveled to the elevator room on the roof via a stairwell. The elevator control panel seemed quite normal and well-behaved, and the electronics in the control panel seemed to be working quite normally. I stayed there for about 20 minutes watching the panel and its indicators as various employees used the elevator, and found no anomalies. I then went back to the elevator, and used my service key to take it out of service. I climbed onto the roof of the elevator car via the hatch in the ceiling, and, with the aid of my flashlights and the bare light bulb on top of the car, used the car roof-top controls (they are used for troubleshooting) to ride the elevator from top floor to basement floor several times, pausing at each floor as I passed it. The trip was uneventful. I was only what an experienced elevator technician would expect to see inside an elevator shaft as the elevator traveled up and down; there was simply no indication of any extra floors, extra sets of elevator doors, or any other indications of anything strange (nor any little grey aliens!).
At this point, I started reflecting that it was somewhat propitious that it was I who had been asked to handle this trouble call, as I had a broad background in engineering and the sciences, and had an avocational interest in strange and anomalous events, which at that time were often labeled “Fortean pheonomena” or “Forteana”. However, even my wide background failed to help me to notice anything out of the ordinary here, three hours after the nurse had reportedly endured her strange elevator ride, and I could not even come up with any theories, however wild, which could possibly explain the report. My exit report to the hospital administrator as I left was rather cursory; while I reported that I viewed the report seriously, my meticulous investigation had found no indications of any anomalies or any weird floors. The administrator, in turn, advised me that he had taken the opportunity during the last hour (while I worked) to consult with one of the building engineers, who had pulled some blueprints and assured him that there were no hidden or extra floors in the building. We agreed to leave the matter at that, and I called my home office and closed the trouble ticket. To my best knowledge, the hospital did not file any further reports of this nature with our elevator maintenance company for the 6 months I remained working for them.
I got a lot of mileage out of this story over the next few months, telling it to numerous friends and co-workers. Indeed, I half-hoped that my telling the tale to my co-workers might jog their memories and shake loose recollections of any similar incidents. Indeed, I did eventually pick up a bit more tantalizing but incomplete information as the ensuing weeks passed. For one, I learned that an older man who worked in our company as an elevator maintenance (repair) technician had received a similar report from the same hospital a few weeks earlier than my call. Apparently the person who had turned in the trouble call to the hospital administrative staff (who had then called the elevator company) had been an evening-shift janitorial employee. In any case, our repairman, a very quiet and taciturn man (also not very curious), had apparently made a very quick and uneventful visit to the hospital and elevator late in the evening in response to the call, had found nothing amiss, and had closed the ticket without fanfare. He had not bothered to investigate the matter much at all, and he had not had the chance to meet the person who had originally filed the complaint. He dismissed the entire incident, and said that he had simply assumed that the employee had been drinking too much alcohol.
I later heard rumors of a similar trouble call – same building and same elevator – several years earlier when another elevator maintenance company had been handling the contract. I heard the rumors through an older man who worked for our company, but who had friends in the field who worked for other elevator maintenance companies throughout the NY/NJ area. He knew no more details than what I reported above, and nothing further ever surfaced, to my knowledge. I left the elevator service field a few months later, in mid-1975, and therefore I would have had little opportunity to have heard more on this matter past this point.
As someone who has been a bit of a student of unusual events, it has, of course, occurred to me more than once, if we assume these reports to be true, that there are all kinds of possible explanations for them which would involve bleed-thru from either one of the astral planes or a so-called “parallel reality”. Indeed, Michael Persinger, a scientist and statistician, proposed in the 1980’s (in a book co-authored with Gyslaine Lafrienere entitled Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events, that events such as this one, sightings of UFOs, and sightings of anomalous animals or beings, may be due to an “opening” which occurs during times of high geo-magnetic activity. The authors, as well as subsequent authors, further postulated that these events seem to often occur in places near geological fault zones, again during times of high geomagnetic activity. The authors presented volumes of statistical studies proving such a relationship for many published sightings of UFOs and anomalous animals. Now, Persinger was never too clear on the nature of this “opening”, whether he felt that it was an opening of the consciousness or perception of individuals, or a more hard-wired opening of a “doorway” in physical reality between “dimensions”, although he seemed to lean toward the former. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the Ramapo fault (a local geological fault) runs fairly nearby the area where the events in this story were reported (the Ramapo fault roughly parallels Route 287 thru much of NJ), and some other “spawn” faults have been reported to run from the Ramapo Fault through the Newarks and Oranges. Some subsequent authors have tied Persinger’s hypothesis in with the various “Many-Worlds” theories” in quantum mechanics, which have largely originated among physicists at Princeton University (in Princeton, New Jersey!)
Many years later, after I finished grad school in the early nineties, I finally ended up in the corporate world in management for several years. My experience of the job, especially as I grew into management, was that it was quite sterile and boring: most of the work I was asked to do as a department director was mindless, meaningless and often extremely counter-productive, as well as illogical. However, the job was fun in a few other ways, and it also gave me a chance to pay off some hefty grad school student loans. To make up for the deadness and sterility of my workplace, I used to often pull practical jokes on, or send prank e-mails to, my friends and co-workers. One day, shamelessly borrowing from my experience with the (above-told) “strange-floor” elevator call 27 years earlier, I painstakingly composed a long, detailed, and psychotic-sounding e-mail to Cheryl, our Facilities Department director, who was a workplace acquaintance of mine; I already knew that she had a good sense of humor. My note claimed that I had been working late the night before, and that I had ridden the elevator to travel to the ground floor at around 8:00 PM. Of course, the letter then claimed that the elevator had then stopped at a floor I had never seen before, filled with blue-skinned people, very tall and thin in stature, whom I had never seen before. Further, I claimed that the walls and floors were luminescent with a bluish-purple light, and that the place was filled with people working in tanks filled with a blue liquid. I included as cc’s about a dozen other employees of the company, both friends and acquaintances, and then sent the note. The e-mail went over very well when it was received the next day, and it became the flagship message in a long series of entertaining prank e-mails (including one which complained that the elevator “DOOR CLOSE” button did not respond fast enough to allow me to kill co-workers by crushing them in the doors as they passed through) which I would continue to send to the innocent, hapless and patient director of our Facilities Department over the next few years.
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