Terror in the Elevator

It was 2001 when my son and I went on our annual mother-son camping/fishing, 4th of July weekend to the Oregon Coast. We fished for a couple of days, but were not having much luck, so we decided to go to the Oregon Sea Lion Caves just outside of Florence.

There were three ways to get down to the caves. We chose the easiest, the elevator.

The elevator ride was about 200 feet down. I am not crazy about elevators, but my son was excited about the experience, so I decided to “Man Up” and push my fear aside just for him.

There were two other couples in the elevator with us. One of the women was incredibly apprehensive about the ride. I could see the fear in her eyes and her white knuckles.

The other couple seemed just fine.

A few seconds into the ride my son, who was 13 at the time, looked at me and said,

        “Mom do you remember that elevator scene from the movie Speed?”

I looked at him and shook my head no, and mouthed “Not now, please.”

He was oblivious, or he pretended to be oblivious, to what I mouthed or to the look on my face. Like a pit bull with a bone, he continued to recount the elevator scene disaster.

I could see the apprehensive lady out of the corner of my right eye. She was squeezing her companion’s hand, as he was shooting death darts at both my son and I.

Again I looked at my son but this time I verbally said,

         “Son, please not now. This is not the best time to talk about these kinds of movies.”

He was not getting it. In fact, he had moved on to another elevator mishap movie scene. Though I do admit his description of the scenes was dead on, incredibly accurate and colorful. He knew how to tell a story.

As he continued to regale the scenes the tone in his voice intensified, and the volume of his voice increased as well. His excitement had engulfed the entire elevator. He looked at me and said,

         “Do you remember that scene mom, do you?”

At that point he began laughing uncontrollably. I was livid. I could still see all the other occupants in the elevator, and they were not enjoying his movie reenactments.

He looked at me and asked,

          “Mom, why aren’t you laughing?”

I knew this situation was out of control. I needed to reign Daniel in. Unfortunately, my “intervention” was worse than his behavior.

I cranked my head and neck to the right and spouted two dreaded words,

          “Shut up!”

I am not sure, but based on the looks of the other two couples in the elevator I must have looked like a rabid dog ready to kill its prey. Not that my son was listening or paying attention to what I had said, or to the look on my face, he was too busy laughing uncontrollably.

Once the elevator stopped, I stepped in front of my son, which forced him to the back of the elevator. I wanted to let the other couples off first. My son looked at me in complete ignorance and innocence and asked me why I was mad and why I had “pushed” him like that.

I tried to explain the reaction of the one couple, and how his topic of choice was not helping her anxiety, but the door of the elevator started to close. I told him we would talk about it all later.

We stepped out and saw all the sites in the caves. My son kind of enjoyed the views, but I knew he was confused and hurt about the elevator encounter.

We didn’t talk about what had happened until we were home. I was still irritated with the outcome of situation. I was mostly irritated with myself.

Eventually, once I calmed down, we discussed what had happened, and why I was so upset. I had to apologize for over reacting. I should have been a lot less emotional and more factual.

It took some time to talk it out, but when we did he was able to understand some of what I was saying, and I was able to understand and hear him as well.

So what did I learn from the elevator situation? I learned that trying to “hammer home” a point, when angry, never works. Emotions need to be calm in order for both sides to hear and try to understand.

Though to be honest, now that I reflect back on that day, he was pretty funny. To this day I can see the gleam in his eyes, the smile on his face, and I can hear the carefree laugh he had.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back in time, just for that one day and relive it, but do it right this time? Maybe when the grandkids come along, I will be a little wiser, maturer, and maybe by then I will have learned how to enjoy these kind of life experiences, and not be so uptight.

Today I am going to go to town and rent the movie “Speed.” I think it would be nice to walk down memory lane and remember a time when life really was a lot simpler.

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