It's a business with a lot of ups and downs


I don't usually give elevators a lot of thought. Until recently, all I could have really told you about elevators could have been summed up in what's known as an elevator speech (a 30-second speech introducing a topic, usually about yourself or your business). Really, other than grain elevators and elevator music, it doesn't seem like the subject of elevators has much to offer.

That's what I thought, until I read the brilliant piece in this week's The New Yorker about elevators -- it's everything you ever wanted to know about the elevator industry, its history, its culture -- yes, culture. It's a long read, but well worth it. And now I'm thinking, given all of the world's tallest buildings that are being built, that if you can invest in any elevator companies, it would probably be well worth one's while. (But, hey, check with your stockbroker first. This is just my theory.)

But what isn't too long, and definitely worth the time, is this video at The New Yorker of a man who was trapped in an elevator in 1999 for 41 hours. It isn't in real time; the 41 hours runs for maybe two or three minutes. Nevertheless, it'll give you a good idea of what it's really like when your life is stuck -- truly stuck. It also may serve as yet another reminder that smoking is bad for your health: when he stepped into the elevator, he had been returning to his office from a cigarette break.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).