It's been a bad several days for us New Yorkers who've had an up-and-down relationship with elevators.
Suzanne Hart, 41, was crushed to death Dec. 14 in a freak accident at her Manhattan office building when she stepped into the elevator on the ground floor, only for it to suddenly shoot upward with the door still open and her trapped in its yawning maw, the New York Post reported.
She was pronounced dead on the scene, and two onlookers had to be sent for psychological evaluations after witnessing the carnage.
That event was only the first in a series of horrific elevator incidents over the past week that has left the whole city a little shaky when crossing the threshold into the claustrophobia-inducing metal boxes we trust each day to take us to our homes and offices.
The very next day, the Daily News reported that elevator mechanic Jason Jordan was being charged with felony assault after a woman was badly injured last Christmas in a SUNY Downtown Medical Center elevator he allegedly failed to properly inspect.
And Brooklyn woman Deloris Gillespie was burned alive Dec. 17 in the elevator of her apartment building. Jerome Isaac has admitted murdering the 73-year-old woman by spraying accelerant on her when the elevator door opened onto her floor, then torching her with a Molotov cocktail, police told the Associated Press.
Fear of lifts may be new ground for many New Yorkers, but for me it brings back memories of a phobia I buried long ago in order to function in the modern world.
After developing PTSD from watching the movie Speed at too young an age, at the beginning of which I faintly recall an elevator car falling just before a man was stabbed through the temples with a (flathead?) screwdriver, I became terrified of the modern convenience.
I scaled a lot of stairs in those days, but I was cured in a most unlikely manner during a church trip to the city as a child. During the sight-seeing jaunt we went to the World Trade Center, bought our tickets and got in line to go to the top of towers, which were still king of the New York hill in those days.
When we neared the front of the line, my knees buckled when I realized the frightening reality of my situation: either I had to ride an elevator a quarter-mile straight up, or be left behind and laughed at by all my fellow travelers. I swallowed my fears and decided to take the plunge.
The elevator was ultramodern, sleek even, and it was attended by an operator who told the whole history of the Twin Towers in something like 30 seconds.
Then we were on the top floor, the city spread out before us, and I came to the conclusion that my fear was irrational. Elevators this modern could never become free-fall coffins, went my thinking.
But of course, a few years later on Sept. 11, 2011, a number of those very same elevators shot to the ground like speeding fireballs, though some lucky souls contained within them actually lived to tell the tale. And I, being sensitive to such matters, was sure to read every detail.
And that brings us to today. I always harbor a healthy trepidation when boarding an elevator, whether empty or packed like a sardine can.
My heart flutters a bit whenever the doors stutter a bit before opening, and I respect them as the fallible hunks of steel that they are. The events of the last week should bring that feeling home for all New Yorkers, whenever they need to travel vertically to make it through the day.