CHEERS to a pair of resourceful staff members at the Plattsburgh Public Library whose good deed would leave McGyver impressed.
Their story begins with a recent visit to the library by a mother and her two young children.
The trio were getting into the elevator when the woman’s cell phone dropped to the floor.
We can only imagine how her heart sank as the phone fell just right to slip through the inch-wide gap at the front of the elevator, dropping at least three feet into a dark compartment beneath the floor.
Word spread among the staff of the woman’s predicament. Getting someone down into that underground space would mean having to call up an elevator technician from Albany, a costly and time-consuming plan.
But library cleaner Brigitte Tardiff figured she might have just the tools to rescue the imperiled phone.
Tardiff took a wooden stake about a yard long — typically used to hold open the library windows — and stuck a strip of velcro to its end.
“Not the regular velcro — heavy-duty,” she explained, showing off a box of the sticky strips that was labeled “industrial strength.”
Helping Tardiff with the perilous rescue mission was her frequent partner-in-projects, library page Sally Kehoe.
The pair had recently installed air conditioners in the library windows, a two-person operation that everyone knows requires much trust and coordination.
“There’s no instructions needed, we just know what’s gonna happen,” Tardiff said of their teamwork.
Lowering the sticky stick down the elevator gap, the pair were able to snag a firm grip on the phone and start to lift it back up, both holding the stick to keep it stable.
But there was a problem.
The phone was facing the wrong way to slip up through the narrow gap it had fallen through.
“If we’d had the ability to twirl it, that would’ve been awesome,” Kehoe said, but the stick couldn’t be turned in the tight gap.
Tardiff remembered that they “got to a certain point and I was like, ‘Oh my god, what are we gonna do now?’”
But thinking out-of-the-box — or elevator — the pair noticed that the gap widened near the edges of the elevator door.
Carefully moving the stick over, they worked the phone up through the opening, grips tensing with victory in sight.
Sure enough, the phone was finally back at ground level and reunited with its owner.
Library Director Anna de la Chapelle praised Tardiff and Kehoe for helping the library serve its community.
“After I learned that the rescue was done safely, I couldn't help but be impressed by their ingenuity and teamwork,” she said.
For the two teammates, the ordeal was just another example of how they operate on the same wavelength.
“What one doesn’t think of, the other one does,” Kehoe explained.
Tardiff had no doubt that “with anybody else, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”