Tag Archives: elevators

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.

Be Careful in the PetSmart Elevator

Background: The informant is now doing marketing for a wine company in the bay area. However, at the time of the encounter she was working in Arizona in a corporate office of PetSmart. She has never had an encounter like this before the one she describes and she has not had any other encounters since. 

BW: So it was 2013 and I worked at PetSmart in Phoenix in the corporate office. And It was not an old building, it was just your average boring corporate office that looked like anything else, not like haunted or anything. My friend and I were just chatting. We were on our way to a meeting. Everyone worked on the main floor and there’s like an elevator and we are going up to a conference room up to another level. So, she and I were just we were walking probably carrying notebooks or whatever and just walking through the lobby until like this little elevator Lobby and in the elevator bank there were three elevators and so we’re walking and there’s always people standing there you know waiting for the elevator, it was right by the cafeteria as well and so tons of people around. you know probably like 2000 people worked in the buildings, there were a couple of buildings kind of like a complex. And so just always people around and you don’t really pay much attention and you don’t know everyone. 

Me: Oh so not the normal place people would think of seeing ghosts. So where did you actually feel like the encounter happened? 

BW: Well, we’re just talking, walking to the elevator we see this woman standing there and she’s waiting for the elevator and you know she had something in her arm like she had a binder in her arm and she just looked like anybody else.

Me: Do you remember more about her physical appearance? Like why didn’t she stand out much? 

BW:  She was probably maybe late 20s early 30s so not like way older or anything you know. There was nothing unusual about her whatsoever; she looked like anyone, she wasn’t like see through anything. She just looked like anyone waiting for the elevator in the building that works at PetSmart.

Me: Okay, then why did you think there was something off with her? 

BW: Well, we were just walking and the elevator doors open, she walks in and then the doors shut and like we had hit the button and they just they like popped back open again so like they were closed for like 2 seconds maybe like they were close and then they popped back open and my friend and I we both walked in and at the same time we both said ‘oh sorry’ because it’s rude. We were rude. She was on her way up in the elevator and we kind of delayed her and so we both walked in and both said “oh sorry” and we walked in and there was no one in the elevator, there was no one there.

Me: Do you think there could have been some other explanation? Like a door to get out or some other exit to the elevator? 

BW: There was nowhere for her to go, there wasn’t like a back door or entrance, some elevators have two sides, but this one didn’t. There was only one way in and out of the elevator. 

Me: And you said you were with someone else right? So you must have both seen her? 

BW: Yes, we both obviously saw her because we both said sorry at the exact same time and then B and I looked at each other and we were both just looking around like did you just see what I saw did you see a woman walk in here and it’s like yes, we both saw her. She described her to me and it was the same person I saw and it’s like we thought we saw the same thing and so like we walked up to the meeting and we were like, my God I think you saw a ghost I mean we saw something we don’t know what we saw but we were just really both pretty shaken by it.

Me: Did you or anyone else ever encounter the same woman again? 

BW: I didn’t work there much longer. This was February 2013 and I moved to Northern California in May so I was only there for like a couple more months so I didn’t see her again. But since then B worked there for a long time after I did and she said that people would see this woman like they would see her occasionally. Someone would say hey B, somebody saw your ghost you know someone who saw the woman you saw in the elevator Lobby again.

Me: So do you have a theory or explanation for what it actually was? 

BW: Well, I mean that’s it I just there’s no I don’t know that she was a ghost obviously but all I know is that I can’t explain what it was. 

I discussed this with the informant in person while sitting across from her. 

My Thoughts: This is one of my favorite “ghost” stories because it is so void of any explanation. It is purely just a story of what she and her friend saw. I definitely believe that it happened; that they did see this woman go into the elevator and then somehow miraculously disappeared. Yet, like her, I have no explanation. 

Where’s the Four?

The Main Piece
The number four is an extremely unlucky number. Just as seven is said to be lucky, the number 4 is heeded with caution, especially in East Asia. In China it is common for buildings to skip making a button for the fourth floor button to be skipped and changed to five. The lore is that someone has either died on the floor, will die there, or a spirit will haunt it if marked with the number four. In most buildings, whether they are apartments or offices, one will not find the fourth floor. Although it does in fact exist, it is not a button in elevators because of superstitious reasons. Many workers find it better to keep on the safe side and preferably just skip the number.
Background Information
My informant is Demie Cuo, an undergraduate student at USC. This belief is common with many people of East Asian culture as they tend to associate words that sound similar with one another. The word for death sounds similar to the word for the number four. Therefore, they think of four as an unlucky number, bringing death to whatever it marks. Demie explained her shock when she came to the states and the fourth floor marking was present in elevators. It took her a while to get used to this oddity. Her parents would warn her of the number four, and even her friends knew about its superstition. She always felt best to abide by these warnings even though she was not truly scared of the number.
I was told about this folk practice by my friend’s roommate, Demmie as we were going up in the elevator. We were discussing folklore previously and she was reminded of this practice as we were headed back to our rooms. She quickly discussed with me why the number four in elevators was extremely odd to her when she first came to the states.
Personal Thoughts
I found it extremely interesting to hear that a superstition has had that much power over a country. If anyone in America were to ever suggest something similar to that it would be quickly dismissed. This shows how much influence cultural beliefs have over the people all across East Asia and even various parts of the world. Although the superstition could be easily proven wrong with examples from any other country not abiding by the superstition, many companies and buildings still abide by this rule. It makes me wonder if there are any superstitions America abides by that go unnoticed simply because it is built into our own culture.