It was a rather hot day in November. I remember circling around Fuente Osmena trying to locate the entrance to the building where I was supposed to have an interview.
I was fresh out from College, like literally just a few days old from graduation, when I got the text message from an HR officer inviting me for an interview at 12 the day after. Perked up early in the morning (the idealist in me then would want to be at least 30 minutes early in any rendezvous) and headed out. I wasn’t so sure of the address but the landmark is in the center of downtown Cebu so it wasn’t too difficult to get there. All I needed to know was to check which building is which.
I tried calling the phone line but no one was picking up. After maybe about half an hour of searching, I finally found their signage on the wall where all other companies were listed. The list was huge but it was at the bottom of the building and hidden between a huge empty wall and a Watson’s shop.
I went by the signage and had troubles finding the entrance to the building. The shop beside it (Watson) was the only entrance I could find. I asked the security guard from the shop if the entrance to the company was through their shop and he just shook his head without talking. I walked closer to the signage looking for a door and I found a very small elevator door adjacent to the wall. First thing I thought was, it’s facing the wrong way. I found it a bit odd because from where I came in from, you would never have thought that tiny little elevator was there.
I pressed the UP button and the light around the button lit up. In a few seconds, the elevator opened and there was a guard inside that tight little space. He was slumped in a plastic chair, his hat skewed to the left, and his chin was almost resting on his clavicle. I slowly entered the lift so I won’t disturb him and pressed button 3. It was a little tricky to do so without bothering him because the buttons were a little low and the bodyguard was in the way.
When I reached the third floor, there was a Ding sound and to my right, I found the company. They have a glass door where you can peak inside, but the office was empty except for one person cleaning the desks. I asked the caretaker if I had the right place or if they had moved, he said that employees are scheduled 6pm and beyond. When I told him regarding the text message I got the night before, he said that they HR Officer probably meant 12mn.
I was frustrated with it because I felt a little dull going in a call center mid-noon. I didn’t know that even the HR office is closed in the morning. So I thanked the caretaker and immediately went back to the elevator. I pressed the down button and the light didn’t turn up. I figured the light-bulb (or whatever you call it) may have just burned out. I waited for 15 minutes and still nothing. I walked a little further to the right and found a huge stairs. I was alone in that very old building and I couldn’t recall seeing a stair entrance when I came in so I opted to wait for the elevator still.
A few moments more, the caretaker came by and found me. He asked “What are you waiting for?”, I smiled and just told him I was waiting for the elevator. Much to my surprise when he said “It’s not working. It hasn’t worked for 3 weeks now. I guess management doesn’t have time yet.”
I shook my head still smiling and said “No, it works. It’s how I came in.” He looked confused and asked me to go with him downstairs. I agreed and we both went down the huge stairs. It led straight to an entrance, one I didn’t see earlier. It should have been hard to miss, it was right beside Watson. It was a huge stairs with two security guards stationed in a brown table. It was just a wall though, just a block of cement earlier. I thought.
The caretaker asked the two guards if they were able to get my credentials, I told them it would not have been necessary, I used the elevator entrance. The guards, too, were surprised. They said they didn’t notice me too. I told them again, a little irritated, that they could not have seen me because I used the other entrance. I even stressed that as proof, the elevator guard can attest to that.
The three of them looked at each other, horrified. I got so irritated I shouted at them and said “Can someone please bring the other security guard in? You’re all making me feel like I did something wrong and I hate it!!!”
One of the security guard spoke and said, “Ma’am, we’re sorry but we can’t get the other guard. There’s only us both on duty and we did not see you come in.”
I shook my head in disbelief and ushered them to come with me by the elevator so I can show them it worked. The caretaker and one guard followed me. We went down a few steps more and moved to the right where there’s an empty space between the stair entrance and the Watson’s shop. I continued to usher them inside and showed them the door, when we were greeted with a laminated signage pasted on the elevator door in big red letters “OUT OF ORDER”.
I stared at the sign, stupefied, flabbergasted, confounded, so I just stared at the door confused. I tried to press the UP button and hoped that somehow the light would turn up but it didn’t.
I looked at them both and the caretaker said, “It’s really not working. But this is not the first time this happened.” Under my breath, I whispered This isn’t possible. Then the guard added, “Ma’am, the elevator is closed because three weeks ago, one of the guards committed suicide inside the elevator shaft.”
The caretaker then said, “You aren’t the first to experience this, ma’am. There were a few before you. And there’s a girl from last week, it took her 4 hours before she got out of the elevator. She was in shock when she got out. They said she’s still in the hospital right now.”
I nearly fainted with that information to the point where both had to help me up and bring me back to the entrance to calm myself down a little. When I was okay, I thought, Somehow, it felt like Death delivered me to my destination. I was just glad I escaped unscathed… or did I?
MR @ 2016
Note: This is based on a true story