Service of Elevators, Busses and Trains that Seem to Know When You’re Late

May 8th, 2023

Categories: Bus Trips, Elevators, Late, Museums, Train, Transportation

This ensemble is made of rabbit fur. It’s at the “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” exhibition at the Met Museum

Have you noticed that if you’re running late elevators, buses and trains don’t cooperate? Waits for the first two are interminable and the trains stop and sit between stations. This usually happens when someone is picking you up to dash to an event.

Even if you leave early, such glitches can create stress. One of my “things” is I hate to be late.

Thursday I had a hard-to-get timed ticket for a member preview of the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I got in a bus in plenty of time until traffic and a driver-in-training felled my schedule. The driver didn’t know how to reenter traffic after letting passengers on and off and he would then stop at almost every green light.

I began to squirm in my seat and to warn my friend by text as tick, tick, tick happened and I felt helpless. I still had a few long blocks to trot to the museum once the bus arrived at my stop.

I spoke with a passenger opposite me in the almost empty bus. He said, “Lucky we’re not stuck in an elevator.” I mentioned a memorable instance when a Business Week employee spent the weekend–Friday night through Sunday–in one. He said he remembered. He also said that many of the elevator starters are elderly and can’t hear the high-pitched ring indicating that someone is stuck in an elevator.

He told me of a recent job—turns out he was an elevator repair man—where a guy was stuck in an elevator overnight. He was suspicious when he opened the elevator door and asked the trapped victim how come he didn’t have to go to the bathroom in all that time. The fellow admitted that the elevator starter let him out to use the facilities. My bus companion then asked the person why he was playing this game. Answer: For 12 hours overtime. “Ah,” said the repairman, “I wouldn’t try for more than two. There’s video in every elevator and your boss will see in the tape that you stepped in and out. You’ll lose your job.”

Then he said to me, “Don’t you feel better? Didn’t I distract you?”

I imagine that he needs to entertain many a person until he lets them free from one of the malfunctioning contraptions he fixes. You’d need someone to calm you if you were floating many feet in the air locked inside a box.

I agreed and thanked him and dashed off the bus a few stops short of my destination. I was in fact late, but we were allowed in to the exhibit anyway, and the whole time my friend was calm and unperturbed.

These things happen and are largely out of our control. Do you get into a swivet when you’re late due to an equipment breakdown or system failure or do you shrug and relax and thank goodness for phones?

From the “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” exhibition at the Met Museum

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13 Responses to “Service of Elevators, Busses and Trains that Seem to Know When You’re Late”

  1. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: The latter as I can’t control everything including the traffic.

  2. BC Said:

    For city folks.

    Do not use elevators, busses or trains in my town.

    Busses used by the poor, elevators in hotels/ offices, trains for out of state mostly, though
    some new rails are coming to Fl. Such is life in the country!

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Cities have their benefits and their stresses. I like the feeling of freedom public transportation gives me. Driving a car in cities these days is no fun. It’s great to own one for jaunts in the country though.

  4. EAM Said:

    One of my favorite stories, en route to an interview, both Bush and Kerry were in town and as I was driving up Sixth Avenue to my destination, I was diverted by a traffic cop. I called the interviewer from the car and was frazzled when I was rerouted. I shouted out the window to the cop, I have an interview, I need to make the turn. No dice, I showed up late, apologized but still did get the job.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    GREAT story though your stress must have been on the moon. You were able to focus quickly. That may have helped you get the job!

  6. Nancie Steinberg Said:

    Nancie on Facebook: It always seems that I am on the bus where the driver waits for the person running or stops again to let someone on but when I am the one running 🏃‍♂️ they never wait!

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    ME TOO!!!!!!!!!!!

    What drives me nuts, even if I don’t need the bus myself, is when the driver pulls away from the sidewalk when there is a RED LIGHT and he/she can’t move anyway. Because they no longer are strictly in the stop, they won’t accept a passenger. Grump.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    The phenomenon mentioned here is universal. It’s called Murphy’s law!

  9. Martha Takayama Said:

    I don’t take regular busses and trains now, but often use The Ride, senior government transportation, it takes forever to book and going places usually is prompt. Returns are invariably very late. I become exhausted from concerns about being ready for pick up and being unpredictably late for appointments. I wring my hands and find it difficult to relax,

  10. Glorianna Davenport Said:

    Lovely. I always want to be on time and rarely leave enough of it to deal with unforeseen circumstances such as buses that take their time to “just be safe”, or are pulling out when the light is red but won’t let me on, or elevators that break down. Your blog an experience of being stuck in what was then the new Time Inc. building at Rockefeller Center. There were eight or so people in the elevator and the growing sense of panic was palpable. But that is another story.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    In a nutshell………That should have been the title of the post.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I couldn’t use such a service because I never know how long I’ll wait with some doctors or how long a procedure will take with others. I don’t want to say to a dentist doing something tricky “Please hurry.”

    I’d either miss every ride or wait for hours because I’d schedule pickup incorrectly. I’ve seen people put pressure on hair stylists because they expect a pickup.

    It’s a great service but not for the faint of heart.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can imagine how frightening it would be to be stuck with eight others in the Time Inc. elevator especially if you are on a high floor AND if you have a vivid imagination which you do. A former neighbor was stuck for a long time in the subway tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan on her way to work and for years had to take a car service.

    I worked in a well-run office building but the night staff wasn’t great. I was in the elevator with a colleague after 8 pm and we rang the emergency buzzer as our elevator swooped up a few floors and then down a few, not stopping at any floor. Eventually it stopped about four feet short of a floor and we crawled up and out fast as we could. When we got to the lobby, [in a different elevator], we asked the staff why they’d not responded and they said, “Oh, is that what it was.” The next day or boss wrote a hot letter to the building management.

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