Updated: May 3, 2020
I was inspired to retell this story by reading what happened to a poor Frenchman who accidentally ejected himself out of jet fighter aircraft. True story. The ejectee was a desk-bound mid-level executive type about to retire. As a retirement gift, his fellow cubicle dwellers combined resources and purchased him an all-expense flight aboard a modern French fighter jet. "Sortez avec une explosion!" which translates to "Go out with a 'blast,'" they said in unison while slapping the poor stiff on the back. "You'll enjoy all the 'G's' the hotshot jock will pull on ja, heh." There was just one problem. He didn't really want to fly aboard a jet fighter. He didn't think himself a fan of 'G's' and airsickness. And what if the jet crashes? So much for retirement. But the poor fella was a good sport. Not wanting to disappoint his compadres, he attempted to suppress his fear and kept his date with the French Airforce, a mach-plus type jet fighter, and a macho pilot eager to see a rookie passenger soil his pants. As he was strapped in, his watch was recording his heart rate- it fluctuated between 140 and 160 beats per minute. But he's a man and a good sport, so he stayed sitting and soon the jet was rocketing down the runway. All was well till the pilot decided to pull back, putting the plane on its tail and 'blasting' towards the heavens. Maybe the poor fella was reaching for something, and perhaps the pilot pushed the nose over abruptly, causing him to grab a handle between his knees for stability. Unknown to him, that was a handle that caused small rockets to fire and bolts holding the seat down to explode. In a millisecond, he and his seat crashed through the plexiglass cockpit shield and into thin air with the ground maybe 2500 feet below. My guess is that his life flashed before his eyes before the parachute unfolded. His dream of lounging the Riveria beaches while in retirement looked in doubt.
The fella survived the return to earth, and the pilot was able to land the fighter safely. A full investigation ensued. The results suggested that maybe next time, a rider should be made aware of the 'ejection handle' and its purpose. But the story I really wanted to tell you is also true. I have changed some of the details to protect those who might still be sensitive or embarrassed by the incident. Of course, I wasn't in the elevator, so I've taken some liberties to what might have been said and actions that may or may not have been taken. The story takes place in a very nice senior apartment building, a three-story affair with an elevator. Most residents prefer the elevator over the stairway for obvious reasons. It is also possible that their pet doggies prefer it too, but I'm just guessing. With dining and meeting areas and the door to the outdoors downstairs, Mrs. Hamlin takes her closest friend and companion, Sepia, outdoor to relieve herself frequently. Old dogs can have continence problems like old people. Mrs. Hamlin had made some effort to fashioning a doggie diaper once, but Sepia, possibly a bit insulted, quickly chewed it to a thousand pieces. So Mrs. Hamlin accommodated Sepia and went up and down the elevator to the patch of grass out back many times per day.
It was possibly the last up and down of the day was when an unfortunate accident occurred. Mrs. Hamlin made it aboard the elevator before the door closed, but Sepia did not. It was the type of elevator where two stainless steel doors closed in the center. So it made perfect sense that as the elevator slowly began its ascent, the leash was pulled along the seam of the door and then up the seam. Sepia's collision with the door was not hard. But when she started traveling up along the seam, Sepia could do nothing but yelp with fear. Her body hit the top of the elevator frame with a bit of a thud. Momentarily, Sepia hung there before her leash broke, setting her free to fall. Anyone standing nearby could hear Mrs. Hamlin's fading screams from inside the moving elevator. The leash was yanked from her hand and in a millisecond, she began to imagine what was happening to her poor Sepia. Her imagination allowed her fear to consider the very worse scenario. Poor Sepia was being reduced to the width of a piece of cardboard as she is pulled through the door like a paper shredder. Death was certain. She was sure of it. Unknown to Mrs. Hamlin is what actually happened to poor Sepia. The collision with the elevator frame tore Sepia's plastic neck collar in two, dropping her right into the hands of Ms. Alex. She had been standing just down the hall and witnessed the entire accident. She arrived just as Sepia's collar broke and caught her before she could fall the seven feet to the floor. Sepia was shaking from the ordeal but completely unharmed. But it didn't go so well for Mrs. Hamlin. Mrs. Hamlin was in full hysterical panic. Instinctively, she began hitting all the buttons on the elevator panel. Unfortunately, that just delayed her return to find her decapitated Sepia. Her worse fears had taken over. Pieces of her poor Sepia would be found in the elevator shaft. Blood would be splattered everywhere, and an officer would be there to haul her away for animal cruelty. She'll have deserved it. She'll plead guilty and spend the rest of her life in prison. Unfortunately, her worse fears just made her more frantic. The elevator stopped on the second floor with the door opening and closing multiple times as she kept hitting all the buttons. If someone were waiting to take the elevator, they didn't get in with Mrs. Hamlin. She was screaming and sobbing and cursing and pushing buttons furiously. When she arrived at the third floor, a staff member sent by Ms. Alexa to run up the stairs to meet her as the door opened. He attempted to calm Mrs. Hamlin to no avail. But he did take control of the elevator and together they returned to the gathering crowd on the main level. All the way down, he reassured her. "Sepia is ok," he repeated over and over. A hyperventilating Mrs. Hamlin just kept sobbing. She could see what was left of the leash on the floor of the elevator. It lay severed like Sepia's head. She was sure of it. Finally, the elevator door opened, and there was a still shaking Sepia licking the neck of a very stone-faced Ms. Alexa. Mrs. Hamlin crumbled to the floor sobbing. Ms. Alexa knelt down with Sepia and returned her to her owner.