If you ever get stuck in a lift, hope that it's not a lift where the emergency help system is managed by Kone.
I had a surreal experience last night, New Year's Eve, involving a Kone lift, three gorgeous women and a bottle of champagne.
We'd been celebrating the New Year Amsterdam-neighbourhood style, where you gather on the street corner just before midnight to toast in the New Year with your neighbours. Plenty of champagne and other beverages flowing freely to accompany the sound and light spectacle of fireworks going off everywhere. Very loud fireworks, especially the strings of Chinese firecrackers that were going off on just about every neighbourhood street corner (example pics on my moblog).
So at about half past midnight, we all traipsed back to Janine's place, next door to ours. Janine is the hostess with the mostest and we fully intended to continue our New Year celebration with more champagne, mince pies, etc.
Like ours, Janine's place is on the top floor. Unlike most apartment buildings in Amsterdam, though, we have lifts. No mountain-climbing steep flights of stairs in our neighbourhood!
Our lifts are quite compact so we took it in shifts: half of our group took the lift then sent it back down for the rest of us.
And so it was that Janine, Micky, Karen and I squeezed into the lift for our flight to the top floor. Except we didn't go up, we went down. About two feet, to the basement buffer. And stopped.
Uh oh. Door wouldn't open. None of the floor buttons would work. We were stuck.
No worries, we thought - our lifts have an emergency calling system pictured here that connects you directly to a Kone help desk. Great! Press the button, get a response, speak, and wait for rescue.
That's what did happen. Eventually. But not in the way any of us could have imagined. And I can't imagine it's in a way a company like Kone would wish to have happened, either.
Here's the rescue sequence -
Call 1, at 12:40am - Karen (the best Dutch speaker of all of us) explains our little predicament via the Kone phone. No problem, came the response, rescue will be there in less than 45 minutes.
Cool. Great company, a nearly full bottle of champagne and plenty to chat about while we waited. A quick call on my mobile phone to my wife Laura on the top floor just to let everyone else know why we would be slightly delayed in re-joining the party.
So there we were, me and three delightful ladies snuggled up together, quaffing champagne and chatting the kinds of friendly chit-chat Brits (and Canadians) do under such circumstances. The Dunkirk spirit was alive and well in that lift last night!
50 minutes or so go by. Where's the Kone guy? Call 2 on the Kone phone. Don't worry, said the friendly Kone help girl, he's on his way. Ok, we'll wait ;)
Meanwhile, text messages fly to and fro between us and our partying friends on the top floor. Now and again, Rebecca, Laura, Phyllis or Ross would appear in the porthole-like window in the lift door to gawk at us in the lift. And tell us what a great time they're all having. Wish you were here, type of thing.
30 more minutes go by. So where is this Kone guy? Another call on the Kone phone, with less amusement in Karen's voice this time. Heck, we were running out of champagne! He's (still) on his way, the girl said. And then hung up on us.
Wtf? Hung up the emergency phone? Call 3. Warbling, bleeping, tones... a new voice. Explain our predicament all over again. Yes, rescue's on the way. So when will it be here? we asked. And they hung up the phone again!
Call 4. Another new voice. Now it's Janine who speaks. Janine's in IT and knows how to get results from a help desk ;)
But, they hang up again. Call 5 produced a bit more info (before they hung up). The call center's in The Hague (not in Indonesia or India or somesuch place we'd been speculating). The Kone rescue guy is based in Amsterdam (and not in ditto).
By now it's about 2:15am. Enough. We're out of champagne, and the amusing gloss is rapidly diminishing from our little escapade.
So I call the 112 emergency number from my mobile phone. Speak to the Brandweer (fire brigade). Explain our situation. Tell them that Kone rescue doesn't work. Don't worry, they said, help is on the way!
And sure enough, about ten minutes later, six of Amsterdam's finest firefighters show up in a great big fire engine, blue lights flashing (but no sirens - this is a quiet neighbourhood) and, in less than 10 seconds, they have the lift door open and we stumble out to applause from those firefighters and the rest of our party.
And we climb the stairs mountain to the top floor. The Kone guy finally shows up about ten minutes later (and, he said, he only got the notification from the Kone help system at about the same time I called 112).
There is a serious point behind the lighthearted telling of this tale.
Clearly Kone in The Netherlands has a major problem with their emergency help system here if our experience is any indicator. It just doesn't work, for whatever reason. What if one of our party had suffered some kind of injury? Or was claustrophobic? Or had some other condition? In all our interactions with Kone, not once did any person at the other end of the Kone phone ask if everyone was ok.
So my advice is - check the name of the manufacturer the next time you get into a lift. And pray that the name isn't Kone.