For most of my adult life, I've lived in dense urban environments where elevators are a part of daily existence. During that entire time, I've had an elevator get stuck a grand total of once. Someone opened a small panel, pulled out what looked like a handset from an old rotary phone, and managed to get people dispatched to get us out. I was a little too distracted to ponder the technology involved then, and I haven't had cause to think about it since.
Decades of ignorant bliss were interrupted this week when the emergency intercom on my elevator—now just a speaker embedded in the elevator wall—tried to get my attention. Because it wanted to offer me a great bargain on some solar panels.
After a brief, wonder-filled period when the Do Not Call Registry seemed to be like magic, telemarketers are back. It's now rare for me to go a day without offers to help with the student loans I paid off decades ago or the credit card balances I studiously avoid having. I usually manage to hang up before the recording can finish its first sentence. But in this case, I stepped on to an elevator with a pitch in full swing and had to listen to it for six floors, not to mention the time involved in the doors opening and closing.
As with the rest of the calls I receive, it was hilariously off-target. The "roof" of my apartment consists of the elevator mech room, meaning the obvious place to install solar panels is indoors. There is some outdoor space, but it's a small balcony with nothing above it, so at best I could prop a couple against the wall.
But none of this stopped the cheery voice from suggesting I push "1" to avoid seeing my electricity bill go up. I could also push 1 to take advantage of tax breaks. In fact, the call appeared to be a long list of different reasons I should press "1"—if there were ever a reason to push some other number, I exited the elevator before it was mentioned. And the whole idea of pressing "1" was as hilariously off-target as the pitch itself, given that there was no keypad whatsoever in the elevator.
In fact, all the elevator had was a single button to call for help. I suddenly realized that this sales pitch involved a literal phone call. But in a time of cheap cellular hardware, that makes some sense. And, if the elevator's emergency intercom is just a cellular device, there's no reason it wouldn't end up targeted with robocalls just like anything else.
I did my best to identify the elevator's manufacturer, but there was no obvious indication in the cab itself. So, while I'd prefer to have some comment from the company, it's not clear how I could get it. Other manufacturers did not respond to requests as of this story's publication.