© 2002 Jamie Zawinski <>

My apartment building has a pair of slow and frequently malfunctioning elevators. They especially inspire confidence with the fact that the last date on the prominently-displayed inspection certificate is more than two years ago. Perhaps in an attempt to rectify this or other problems, there has been someone working on them lately, and last night, they left a work-light on the roof of one of the cars, lighting up the shaft and giving a pretty good view of the mechanism.

And so, I have some notes to aspiring Hollywood script writers:

  • There is no ladder running the length of the elevator shaft, with which our heroes can make a speedy escape.

  • Not only is there no ladder, but there is only about six inches clearance between the elevator car and the walls. Even the daintiest gun-toting supermodel wouldn't be able to press into that space to avoid a falling car.

  • There are no greasy cables to climb.

  • As far as I can see, there is no inertially-activated braking mechanism to save our heroes from splattery doom should the non-existent cables be cut. Those wheels against the track look to be mere unpowered guides.

    (I'm told the car is probably pushed up from below hydraulically.)

  • However (and here's the good news!) it would appear that the walls of the elevator shaft are made of drywall. This means that should the car somehow break loose of its mountings and get a little sideways push, it could go through that wall like a sledgehammer through warm butter, and land right on somebody's desk!

I hope this helps clear up any confusion.

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