I worked with Nick White for years at Business Week. I was working more from home in 1999 when this happened, but I remember the horrible story being relayed to me by some co-workers when I was at the McGraw-Hill Building that next week.
Working late on a Friday night he left for a smoke break around 11pm. On the way back up his elevator stopped working. Security guards never noticed his cries for help or the alarm buzzing — neither did the maintenance crews working over the weekend.
He didn’t have a watch or cell phone. He had no idea what day it was, how many hours had elapsed or if it was day or night. He relieved himself down the shaft after prying the elevator door open. When he slept, he had to cover his eyes with his wallet to shield them from the blaring lights.
All he had to eat were Rolaids. He survived 41 hours without a drop of water.
Yes, there was a court settlement. Yes, he still uses elevators. You can’t live in NYC and not use them.
I knew his story, but I never even thought about the fact that there was a video of his ordeal. The New Yorker posted it on YouTube.