McCarthy Ghost Stories

Within the University of Southern California’s Freshman Honors Dorm, also known as McCarthy Honors College, there are two elevators that traverse up and down between the building’s five floors. The insides have metal walls with a neat dappling texture, and they can comfortably fit around 12 people.

M is a male worker at McCarthy whose job is to ensure that its facilities are clean and that the residents are not collecting a buildup of water residue or gunk in their bathrooms. When asked if he knows any folklore, he claims that some of the workers have experienced strange, possibly paranormal activity in its elevators. 

Me: So how long have you been working in McCarthy?

X: This is my first year working in this residential building, and frankly it’s a lot better than some of the other dorms I’ve been at. 

Me: That’s great to hear. Just out of curiosity, do you know any folklore that is related to your job or to your heritage?

X: Yeah, I personally have a story about the, the elevators in this building. Particularly the right elevator. Since I’m a janitor, I have to go up and down the elevators a lot during the nights and in the early mornings, depending on my shift. Sometimes the elevator will just stop and open its doors on the second floor even when I’m going to the fourth. And so I look around, and there’s no one there. But what’s more strange is that I look down at my watch and it’s 5 A.M. It makes no sense!

Me: Wow, that seems pretty scary-

X: And that’s not even the end of it. Sometimes, the doors will start to close and then just jam, as if someone or something was physically stopping it. Then it’ll suddenly just close with a bang.

Me: Wait, I’ve witnessed that too! That used to happen a lot during the first semester and I’d also get kind of freaked out.

X: Yup, and we’ve had lots of accidents dealing with vomit in the elevators. For some reason, they say that they’re fine before, but then when they get on the elevators and overwhelming nausea causes them to throw up. Most of the time, it’s drunk kids on a Friday but it’s happened to completely sober kids too.

Me: Oh yeah, I’ve seen them air out the elevators a lot. I feel a little better about just taking the stairs haha. Do you have any suspicion of what causes these incidents?

X: Yes, a lot of the workers have had the feeling that someone was watching them or that something was a little off in the right elevator, so there has been a rumor going around that there’s a ghost. HA! I don’t really believe it myself, but it is pretty fun to think about sometimes.

Me: Yikes, I really hope it’s not a ghost! Thank you for your time X and for sharing this story with me.

X: Yeah no problem.

Personally, this story fascinates me because I have been a fan of ghost stories for years, so hearing about potentially paranormal activity in my own dorm is very intriguing. It has been speculated that elevators can sometimes act as bridges between different dimensions, as well as between the physical and spiritual worlds. Although these events in the McCarthy elevator are somewhat compelling, I also think they could all be explained in some degree by more practical means. For instance, the elevator doors could open on empty floors because somebody on the floor pressed the button to call the elevator. Only, they realized the elevator would take too long so they walked down the stairs, leaving the elevator to open onto an empty hallway. The only strange part is that this was happening at odd hours, though college students are notorious for having unconventional sleep schedules. The door getting jammed and then slamming shut could be an issue with the alignment of the doors, as a hitch in the closing could result in lots of force building up and acting on the door at once. The vomiting also, could just be a result of the motion of elevators, as the increased compression when it starts going up or the feeling of weightlessness when it goes down can induce vomiting in someone that already feels sick. In all though, this is a really cool story and I hope that if there actually was a ghost, it would be a friendly one.