elevator shaft

Elevators have that little gap in between the doors and the lift itself, and it doesn't seem like much could get lost in it, but turns out, plenty does! In this collection, users on Reddit share the weird, unexpected, and sometimes hilarious things they've discovered at the bottom of elevator shafts. Turns out, it's more than just keys and bent quarters. Way more.

stacks of magazines
This Guy Must Have Been Doing This for Decades

"My dad has a great story about this. He supervised the mechanics, and one of them called him from a mental hospital and said 'you've got to see this'. The maintenance guy was called because the elevator wasn't quite sitting level on the ground floor; it was about half an inch too high and both patients and staff had been tripping on it. But all other floors were no problem.

My dad arrived to find the maintenance guy cackling, looking into the bottom of the shaft. There were probably tens of thousands of magazines down there. They had to get a bunch of shovels, a small crew, and a rolling dumpster to clear it out. When it was all done, my dad decided to stay behind and pretend to read a newspaper while he sat in the lobby. After about half an hour, he sees an elderly patient holding a magazine, shuffling slowly toward the elevator. He stops in front of the doors, glances left, glances right, and quickly stoops down, slides the magazine into the gap, and shuffles away as fast as he can with a huge grin on his face. My dad could not help but laugh hysterically. This guy had probably been sliding magazines in there multiple times per day, every day, for decades. I should ask him whether he reported it or let the guy have his fun. Wouldn't surprise me if my dad went with the latter."

egg carton
At First the Explanation Does Not Seem Obvious, But Wow Does it Make Sense Now

In this story, one storyteller cannot figure out why a thing might have happened, but then there is a surprise answer from someone who knows a little more about how things work.

"Worked at a hotel. Guest dropped their phone down the shaft. After a few failed retrieval efforts, we called the elevator guys. They went down got the phone and also found a carton of eggs. Rotten, but not cracked. I don't even understand how that could happen accidentally."

Now if you're like me, you probably are wondering, just how would a whole package of eggs end up, undamaged, at the bottom of an elevator shaft? Fortunately, we got some a reply from someone with first-hand experience in the matter:

"Because it was no accident. I work in tech now but while I was in college I helped an HVAC guy and he once had me put a carton of fresh eggs in the duct of a client’s office that had stiffed him before. When I asked him why I was doing this he said 'if this dude doesn’t pay up, he’s going to have a new issue.' But then the guy paid two days later and I was sent to retrieve the eggs. He called it his '99¢ insurance policy.'"

security guard on walkie talkie
Classic Case of Laziness on the Job

"Not a technician, but do work at a large hotel. A few years ago one of our elevators stopped working. Turned out when they opened it up they found a 3-ft pile of guest folios that were never delivered to the rooms. Later when we looked on the camera we found it was a security guard that got tired of delivering them to the rooms and instead dropped them down the elevator shaft. He did this for months until he was caught."

surprised cat
An Unexpected Wholesome Ending

"My dad was an elevator mechanic for about 15 years.

He had a very dark sense of humour and would come home with some of the craziest stories. (For example, any time he was in an elevator, he would shake it a little or tap on the displays or buttons and go 'Yep. Total piece of junk. Inferior piece of junk.' and I think he mostly did it to freak people out.) One of my favourites:

He got a call that someone was hearing weird noises from the elevator. He got inside, rode the elevator up and sure enough, he could hear it too. For half a second he thought it was a baby crying and realized it was a cat. When he got to a certain floor, he could hear this sad meowing. It obviously wasn't in the elevator car, so he got into the shaft and found this little orange kitty! It had somehow (and I don't think he figured out or told us how) got into the elevator shaft and was sitting in a spot between the floors where it wouldn't get crushed by the elevator, but it couldn't get out.

My dad saved it and gave it to the building manager to see if it belonged to anyone in the building.

It was the one time he ever told us a story that involved him saving an animal instead of finding dead ones."

tax records
Taking Laziness to a New Extreme

In another mystery solved, one Reddit user manages to see a comment they know about intimately. The first user posts his find at the bottom of one elevator shaft:

"'Well over 1500 tax returns at the bottom of the ATO's north Brisbane office elevator shaft.'"

And then another user replies:


A person I know told us a story about how they used to work in the ATO Brisbane office, and if anything came across their desk that was 'too hard' it was dropped into the bottom of the elevator shaft!

We were only talking about it the other night having a giggle about what would happen if they were ever found. They giggled saying a load of files went missing in that shaft.

This was WAY back in the day, like 25+ years ago... before computers, and well before the internet. If something needed to be sent out, they would have to fill in a form by hand, and then that was typed up by another person on a typewriter and then sent out in a letter. So It was easy to make paperwork disappear."

surprised doctor wearing mask
What Did I Just Pick Up?

"Our team dropped a steel rectal dilator down the dumbwaiter shaft by mistake. The elevator technician came down and grabbed it off the floor. I'll never forget the look on his face when I told him, 'We need that up here it's got to go in someone's behind soon.' It was priceless. I am a technician for a hospital, so dealing with rectal surgical tools is very normal.

I just keep thinking about that poor dilator. It got away for a minute, thought it was finally leaving that wretched life behind, next thing it knows, it's lying at the bottom of a filthy dumbwaiter shaft. And just when it's starting to get used to that, thinking 'not much of a view but a lot roomier than I'm used to,' along comes the elevator tech and it's back to the old day in, day out.

It must gave done something really bad in a previous life."

The Lengths People Will go to not Pay for Something
The Lengths People Will go to not Pay for Something

"Worked security in a large department store. We routinely had to pop the elevator open to retrieve dropped keys, wallets, and phones.

One time, we recovered a $2500 gold necklace covered in poop. A would-be shoplifter darted out of our jewelry department and, um, 'suitcased' the necklace while in the elevator. When he realized we were waiting for him at the exit level he went back up a floor, removed it, and dropped it down the shaft.

We arrested him anyway, much to his surprise."

Up, Up, and Away!
Up, Up, and Away!

"I am not an elevator maintenance person, but I have been in dozens of elevator shafts for work. I’m a Bomb tech, and when I was in the Army I did a lot of POTUS/VIP missions in conjunction with the secret service. They don’t have a bomb squad, so they steal us. It’s a great gig, you get to travel all over and stay in some insanely nice hotels.

Anyway, the elevator shafts must be cleared to ensure that there aren’t any explosive devices. Basically, any place that POTUS or the VIP will go needs to be checked out. I’ve done a fair amount of 'elevator surfing', which is riding on top of the car.

The weirdest (and funniest) thing I’ve seen was a 12 inch (around that height) Superman figurine that had its feet glued to the top of the elevator. The head was slightly tilted back and the arms were pointed upwards so it appeared like Superman was flying up, up, and away! whenever the elevator was in use. I have a picture of it saved on an external hard drive somewhere. That was hilarious."

The Mafia and Elevator Shafts
The Mafia and Elevator Shafts

"Ooh I’ve got one that’s relevant. My great uncle was a truck driver years back. It wasn’t uncommon in those days that people would try to steal things from his truck. One day some Mafia guys walked up to the cab, held him up by force, and told him to get down. They brought him up on the roof and gave him a bag. They said someone is watching him, someone will come to pick up the bag, when they do you can go home. If you look in the bag the scout will shoot. He at up there for 2 hours but nobody came. He opened the bag and there was a sandwich and a soda inside. So he ate the sandwich and walked home (they stole the truck, it was recovered abandoned). A few months later the same thing happened. This time they brought him into an abandoned building. When they got there he said he didn’t care about the truck but trying to make light of things asked if they had another sandwich. Then they threw him down an elevator shaft in the abandoned building. He broke both legs. Fortunately not long afterwards a cop was passing by and heard him screaming. He quit driving trucks after that."

man with cleaning gloves and spray looks dejected
That is Not a Waterfall

"This was at a hotel. Guest reports waterfall sounds in elevator shaft en route to the lobby. Investigation ensues. Sump pump at bottom of shaft is running constantly. Water is still coming out of the drain it’s connected to after I unplug it. Find out from notes of 3rd shift maintenance that multiple first floor rooms had repeated clogged toilets all night long. Plumber called. 6 inch sewer drain for the entire building is clogged. 'Worst clog I’ve seen in 15 years.' Wash cloths and tp. Over 7 inches of clog in the pipe. Apparently it was clogged so bad that it was backing up into the laundry room, the drain for the elevator shaft and the rooms closest to the main pipe out of the building (first floor suites).

Solid turds were left at the bottom of that shaft. I quit about a week later for unrelated circumstances. Although, I think I should’ve quit for the related circumstances."

motorola phone with smiley face stickers
The Old Pretend to be a Cat Technique

"My dad had a Razr phone back when they were still cool. Just to annoy him, my mom changed the ringtone to the sound of a meowing cat. My dad absolutely hated it, but didn’t change it.

Anyway, one day at work, he’s getting out of the elevator and accidentally drops his phone into the crack between the elevator car and the doors! He calls maintenance and asks them if they can get his phone back, but they say sorry, we can’t do that. So he’s standing outside the elevator thinking of what to do and he gets an Idea. Running into a nearby office, he asks a coworker if he can use their desk phone for a second... and proceeds to call his own phone. He does this a few times.

A couple minutes later, someone else hysterically phones security, saying that there’s a cat stuck in the elevator shaft. A few other people in the elevator at the time corroborate the story, so the elevator maintenance folk run the elevator up the shaft and shine some light down there.

Meanwhile, my dad and some other people are standing by the open doors to the shaft, looking downwards. My dad says, 'Hey, I don’t see any cat...but I think I see my phone down there! Can you guys grab it for me?' And they do."

wedding bands laying on a rock
Rings Sacrifice Themselves for Their Owner

"I used to work at an old 22 story building that had the first automated elevator system in our state. The idea was, in order to control the flow of people in the lobby you’d push the button for your floor and the elevator would tell you which one to get on. The elevators would make sure the crowds spread out over the big lobby.

Anyway, it was the first time I’d ever seen the auto-open eyes used, too. I worked on the executive floor, where long winded executives would often stop me as I was leaving. I got used to passing my hand through the doors to break the eye and hold the doors open.

You guessed it; my left hand didn’t trip the eye. The doors closed on my hand which was prevented from closing completely because of my heavy engagement and wedding rings. Crushed the whole mess and lost a two two carat diamond 22 stories below. My hand was only bruised, thank goodness for a safety shutoff.

I like to think that someday, someone will find a tiny treasure."

That is One Big Pile of Junk
That is One Big Pile of Junk

"Not an elevator tech, buuuut....

We were running a warrant at a horrible multi-story building that had been essentially abandoned by the owners. We knew the top floor had been riddled with access ways between many of the old apartments by kicking through the dry wall. Essentially most of the top floor was a single 'super-apartment'.

We knew the elevator was out, so we hit the stairs as soon as we pulled up. The building was abandoned to the point of smelling (BAD), but we knew there were squatters that lived here. It wasn't a huge haul up, but running stairs with all your gear isn't exactly a vacation. We got to the top floor and started working on containment. Within a minute or two we heard calls of 'Contact!' behind us, followed by the yells for someone to get on the ground. The floor was quickly secured with no injuries (which is a good day).

Rounding back to the entry hallway, we learned that our suspect had kicked down the drywall opposite the elevator, and thrown some bundles down the elevator shaft before he was taken into custody. A quick conversation, asking the folks on the ground floor to pop the elevator doors and see what was there. Horrible idea.

Within seconds a screamed 'Stop! NO!' was heard up the stairwell. The ground floor of the elevator was completely filled with junk, as part of the ceiling from the elevator had caved in, and the cast-off-of-humanity was seeping in. We rapidly learned that it was even worse for the second floor as it was filled almost to the top.

Yeah... the abandoned building had a trash chute, in the form of the broken elevator shaft. All kinds of stuff, dirty diapers, a dead cat, syringes, garbage bags, garbage out of bags, little fluffs of toilet paper with nasty streaks on them, broken glass, and a curious amount of unbroken bottles that all seemed to be filled with golden yellow liquid. It was a horrible, damp mess.

I had to rope down from the top (not too many floors) to take possession of the bundles that were thrown down. Thankfully all were on top. I stupidly thought this wouldn't be that big of a deal, and then I started my descent. If I messed up my rope down, I was going to bounce off of tetanus incarnate, laced with used hypodermic needles and human excrement. I probably should have found a better way, but this idiot was already descending.

It turns out that they really were all the way on top. Steady hands locked the line, and I was able to stretch and reach the bundles. The gang then hooked the line and helped angle me to a safe exit."

Every Day is An Adventure
Every Day is An Adventure

"Work for a major transit hub, we have our own trade departments. I'm in elevating.

Weirdest things I have found are as follows:

Chucky doll head. 13 rubber duckies in one pit. Illicit substance needles almost daily. Silicone Gimp mask. It almost sounds like someone was doing some kind of ritual, doesn't it?

Every day is an adventure."

woman with hand on face in front of christmas tree
That's A Lot of Different Kinds of Things

"Been in the game 12 years now. Found a full Christmas tree last month. Other finds 5k in £20 notes. Big bag of illegal substances, roughly 5 kilos. Brand-new shoes by the box load. A severed finger.

So, backstory.

Christmas tree was found this year on a council estate in August. Photos were taken for the office as it was rather amusing. I visit this lift every month.

The money and illegal substances were found in the same lift shaft around 3 months apart 7 years ago. The money was split between me and my engineer as I was an apprentice at the time. The other stuff we handed into security.

The shoes were found on a passenger/staff lift out the back of a sports department store. Suspect a staff member was sticking them down there and loading into a car at the end of his shift. Police were involved in this one.

The finger was found in a very expensive apartment building. We're talking 50 floors and million £+ apartments. Again, police and EMT services involved in this one."

When the Dust Settles
When the Dust Settles

"I used to work at a hotel, we weren’t really allowed to mess with any of the elevator rooms or anything like that but we would have to use them constantly, being an old hotel they were bound to break on us eventually. Sure enough, on an overnight shift the elevator malfunctioned and the elevator fell down to the bottom chasm area. I was terrified, luckily I was at the lobby level so it only fell past the parking lot and a bit further down. Once I realized I was stuck down there I began to panic and tried to get out of there any way possible. I was able to pry the door open and it was just all covered in dust, there was so much dust I couldn’t see anything for like a minute, once the dust settled, there it was right in the corner, a giant purple adult toy."

man holding driver's license
Ten Years Later

"I once accidentally lost my drivers license down the little gap in the elevator doors, just dropped it and was super unlucky as it slipped through. It turned up in my mail 10 years later! Obviously long expired, but still crazy some maintenance guy found it and bothered retuning it."

guy with hand over nose, looking disgusted
The Floor Should Not Be Moving

"One time, we were doing a rip out at an old factory. They were gutting them and turning them into luxury apartments. The elevator we were taking out was a beat up old freight that hadn't run in years. When we finally ran it up, we went down to inspect the pit. It smelled like a dead body had chilled there for half a century. The bottom floor wasn't lit so I shined my flashlight under the elevator and the whole floor started moving. Roaches. Nasty.

I've cleaned out more pits than I could count. I gave my mom a cheap ring I found. Found a pair of underwear at a hotel. Found a full packet at a courthouse of some lady's case transcribed. Oh, I was on a mod once and one of the hoistway doors had an advertisement sticker for a tennis restringing service. Which was weird because it was somewhere only an elevator guy should be able to reach. I called the number, but it was out of service. I've found some cool graffiti from the 40s.

I worked on escalators for a year and a half. There was a lot more in those pits. I was taking home bent up quarters every day. There was lots of shoe bits and I was always nervous of coming across used needles in certain units."

Pieces of What?
Pieces of What?

"The elevator guys in my dad's office complex found pieces of a dog's skeleton. Not the whole skeleton, just random parts. Was it the same dog? If so, where were the other parts? How could this happen? Never got answers."

woman doctor holding hand to forehead
Time Traveling Jesus

"Not in elevator repair...

A few months ago we had a floridly psychotic patient (think staring into space, can’t form a coherent sentence, etc) brought into hospital. There was a fire alarm at an apartment building and when fire went in, they somehow found this guy living in an elevator shaft. He had evidently been there for some period of time.

Most of his delusions that he was talking about for me (that I could understand) were about time travel and Jesus, so we were joking a bit that he wasn’t actually psychotic and was just time traveling Jesus."

big diamond
Lucky Find

"My dad has been an elevator repair man for almost 30 year now. His best find to date was a $12,000 yellow diamond engagement ring! Tried for a while to find the owner, but eventually he got to keep it.

Can’t imagine someone just leaving something like that unless:

1) She said no, so he threw it away. Then went and killed himself.

2) He/she stole it and got too excited and let it slip through their fingers.

3) Billionaire who throws expensive things away all the time just because he can.

4) Jeweller who was hoping to make a fraudulent insurance claim.

Any one else would definitely call the maintenance or Fire Department if they lost a US$12,000 ring down the elevator shaft."

Yeah That's Illegal
Yeah That's Illegal

"The company where I worked had an old heavy-duty freight elevator that was semi-abandoned. It was more like an automotive lift with giant pistons embedded in the ground, but installed in an elevator shaft. When they needed to move something huge, they would fill the hydraulics with oil. It took hundreds of gallons to top off the system, including the giant pistons, and then they would use it for a day. A few months later they would try to use it again and find the oil gone. Once, they planned to use it the following day, so maintenance pumped in the oil to get ready. The next day - no oil. They refilled it the morning of the move and got one lift out of it before it stopped. The company knew it was spilling hydraulic oil into the ground under the plant and just did not care. The finally abandoned it for good when the maintenance guys threatened to report the illegal oil dumping."


"Years ago, I was on maybe week two or three of my first big boy job after college. I worked accounts payable for a large healthcare company and we were positioned on the 18th floor of our building which happened to be the executive level only bc there was no other place to put our small AP department. Being the peon, I was in charge of making the trek down to the post office every day and getting the business' mail. On one particular day, I forgot my work lanyard which held my door pass, and all my work keys at home so I borrowed one of our vice president's keys to go get the mail with. The time came and I walked to the elevator and right as it opened, I somehow fumbled the keys and they fell perfectly down into the seam on the floor. I could hear them clanking all the way down to the ground level. Took a week to get the elevator maintenance people out there as this wasn't an emergency. That is one week that I thought I was surely being fired. The VP hated me from then on, but we just didn't talk. I never got let go for it. Being in AP, I received and coded the bill from the elevator people. It was around $1,000.00 for someone to open the ground floor door and get the keys. I have no idea why they never took that out of my paycheck."

Secret is Safe With Me
Secret is Safe With Me

"So I'm a fire alarm technician, and in buildings with a fire system, we have to test the detectors in the elevator shaft on an annual basis... The elevator tech gets called in and while he does his inspection, we get access to the detectors.

The weirdest thing we've ever found? One time we went into an elevator pit and there were hundreds of little balled up pieces of tin foil all over the floor of the pit. We unrolled one and inside was a roach... Not the bug, the discarded stub of a joint.

Apparently some kid in the building would walk down the stairwell, go into the back alley and smoke a J. Then ball up the roach in a piece of tin foil, and since there was no place to dispose of it, and probably didn't want to get caught throwing it away in his apartment, he just chucked them down the elevator shaft as he went back up.

Concierge knew which kid it was because he saw him on the security cameras, so he just told the kid, 'Hey, we don't want you throwing the tin foil balls down the elevator shaft, so if you have anything to throw away, you can use the bin behind my desk, and I won't say a word."

Payback with a Twist
Payback with a Twist

"Ok, I know this might be messed up, but when I lived in an apartment building with an elevator, I would often leave things in the elevator shaft just to mess with the maintenance guy.

It started because I knew he was superstitious and paranoid and he had been a total punk to my female roommate and asked her for an 'alternative payment' in exchange for him fixing our fireplace.

So... Yeah.

I used to leave things just to mess with him around the apartment complex.

In the elevator shaft, I left a pentagram circled by candles, and in the middle of it I put a porcelain doll and two knives I had used to clean chickens and deer, still with blood on them.

Beneath the stairs on the first floor, there was an empty space he would store tools behind a metal door. In the far back corner, behind tools he rarely moved, I put a small mattress and some old Polaroids I bought at an estate sale... Scratched out the eyes and faces on some of them... So he thought someone was living under the stairs.

On the roof of the building, by the AC units, I left a copy of the Satanic Bible that I got from some girl I had met on Tinder and slept with. (She tried to convert me to Satanism and I was perfectly happy being a non-believer in all religions).

So the story the maintenance guy told our Landlord was that there was a Satanic witch squatting under the stairs and performing rituals and practicing witchcraft in the elevator shaft.

I moved out with my girlfriend soon after that. But my old roommate said she heard from the landlord that the maintenance guy moved out of the building and the landlord figured out it was me shortly after I moved out. The landlord thought it was hilarious."