Monday, February 16, 2009

Facing Your Fears

Everyone’s afraid of something. Spiders, ghosts, heights…those are the big ones I can think of. But I’m kind of an offbeat person, so my fears are pretty offbeat as well. For instance, if we were in a zoo and they announced the escape of a tiger from its enclosure, everyone else would be screaming and running, but I’d be standing on a bench going, “Oooh! Where?” However, if the zoo announced a penguin breakout, well, I’d probably be the only one shrieking and sprinting for the exit.

One of my other fears is elevators. It’s not claustrophobia; I’ve been in tighter spaces with no problem. The plummeting to my death thing is a little off-putting, but to be honest, I really think it’s the movement that gets me. The floor is the floor for a reason—because it doesn’t move. But elevators do, and that freaks me out.

Of course, when I was in college, there was only one rickety, antique elevator in the whole building. On this particular day, I had to go to the library. Ordinarily, I would have sucked it up and taken all four flights of stairs rather than get into that creepy, wiggly box. But I was between classes on my busiest day, I had a ton of books, and my laziness overcame my fear. I got on with another student on the first floor, and we headed up, with me jammed into the corner, white-knuckling the railing as usual. The other student got off on the third floor. The doors closed, the elevator rose—and suddenly, shuddered to a halt.

After a few panicky gasps, I edged out of my corner and pushed the buttons. All of the buttons. The elevator groaned a bit, but nothing happened. Finally, after three tries, someone answered on the emergency call button. Fifteen minutes later, fifteen of the longest minutes of my life, the doors were pushed open by a security guard. And that’s when I got the nastiest surprise of all.

The elevator was stuck between floors.

Getting sliced in half while trying to escape the stuck elevator has to be in at least the top twenty of classic horror movie scenes. But here was the security guard, his arms outstretched to hoist me out of the elevator, telling me that it was this or waiting hours for the elevator repairmen to come.

Did I mention I have another fear? Looking like a sissy. So, I held my breath, grabbed his arms, and practically folded myself in half in midair, to avoid having my legs chopped off. I swear, I think my feet made it out before my head did. And then I was out, all body parts intact.

People often ask me if that experience helped me overcome my fear. The answer is a resounding NO. If anything, it’s only reinforced the fact that my fear isn’t an irrational one. If stairs are available, I will be taking them, with muttered excuses about burning calories.

So…what’s your worst fear? Have you ever had to face it?

Beware the sound of crying children, watch out for the barmaids, and whatever you do, don't let the Pegasus spit on you.
Surviving Serendipity--


Iris said...

Needles! Hypodermic needles! As in, those kind you use everyday to draw blood. As in, the kind I am constantly being pricked with. Jackie, I want you to know that I consider you to be a professional vampire. Your kind and arthritis doctors (cant spell that fancy r-word). Grrrrrrr.

Btw, I have always had to face it, but it keeps getting worse, not better.

Regan Black said...

Penguins? Really? That's just sad. If you need to be afraid of a bird, try being afraid of Hitchcock's birds, or a vulture.

Although I can't criticize. I'd be with you on that bench looking for the wandering tiger, until they announced the snakes had used the diversion to make their own escape.

Of course taking Iris to a blood draw is very frightening too.

Mary Cunningham said...

I'm deathly afraid of elevators and tight spaces. I can't tolerate having my arms pinned to my sides.

My claustrophobia goes back to my childhood when I'd be playing in a large footstooland my brother would put the lid down and then sit on it!

To this day, if that elevator is 2 seconds late in opening, I'm clawing on the door!