For those that are afraid of normal lifts /elevators, I suggest you end your reading here.(Not really there’s not much peril – honest).
For those of you that have not come across this type of transportation before, the Paternoster Lift consists of a chain of individual lift compartments that have no doors and thus have open access. They are designed for just a couple of people to ride in each compartment and move in a loop up and down inside the lift shaft without stopping. The open access means that riders can step on or off at any floor they like.
They don’t move very fast but remember ‘fast’ is a subjective word as perception of speed is dependant upon cognitive ability.
I used this type of lift many times whilst at Leeds University and found them to be generally very safe. In fact I will re-phase that…the lifts themselves were always safe just that they are a type subject to user error.
How do you misuse a lift you may ask ? Well bearing in mind there were no doors on this type your misuse options were limited (I’ll let your imagination run riot with the thoughts of what you could do in them if there were doors). One option however always available was the time you ‘forgot’ to get off and ended up being transported in the pitch black over the top of the loop before plunging into daylight again (Going over the top was always perceived to be better than going round at the bottom). It was sort of a mild ‘hazing’ ritual that most people (including me) chose to experience at one time or another. Obviously ‘intelligent student’ is an oxymoron.
But that wasn’t where the peril lay, the peril came from the action of getting on and off these sometimes particularly vicious lifts.
As they moved continuously you had to accurately judge when you stepped on or off these things. Try to step on too soon and you risked twisting your ankle as you dropped into the lift – too late and you risked bashing your shin on the lip of the lift as unrelentingly it continued to rise (vice versa if you wanted to go down rather than up in the lift).
Stepping on or off was easy when sober but unfortunately this ‘easy’ task became much more difficult when under the influence of excess alcohol. In the Leeds Student Union, the ‘Tetley Bar’ as it was formerly known, used to have as it’s claim to fame the title of the largest volume beer retail site in the UK. As I helped it achieve that title in my time at Leeds as a drunk (aka student), it will come as no surprise that there were several occasions that I came across the Paternoster peril.
Countless times (I really do sound like I was an alcoholic) I bashed my shins on the edge and more than once or twice whilst not twisting an ankle, I did also end up collapsed in a heap as I’d misjudged the speed and fell most un-Buzz Lightyear like into the lift (I definitely didn’t fall with style).
However under the influence I was I still always realised whatever the peril taking the Paternoster, it was always safer in my condition than trying to attempt the stairs – maybe in my case ‘intelligent student’ wasn’t quite so much an oxymoron after all.