Not to be confused with the Biz Markie song "The Vapors" which only my fellow true old school hip-hop heads would know. It's not misspelled either. It's a shortened version of the word "elevators". It's done intentionally too. Anyone who ever lived in The Towers at Iowa State or probably even ever visited there would be familiar with it. Everyone there referred to the elevators in those antiquated buildings by the same familiar term: the vators.
I started off with the idea of talking about The Towers themselves. It would have been very appropriate on this weekend that is the ISU Black Student Alumni Reunion weekend. Not to mention that they are worthy of such. Even though two of them are now gone (including Storms Hall where I stayed for two years), they are definitely not forgotten. However, I could go on and on about the memories from that place. I may still do that at some point. Instead, I decided to focus on just the vators aspect.
For starters, I have no idea where that term even originated. From the first day we got there, people were referring to them as "the vators". And it seemed to be indigenous to only the elevators in Towers. It may have even been just Storms and Knapp Hall (also now gone) for all I know since I can count one one hand how many times I ventured to the other two Towers: Wallace and Wilson.
The thing about the Vators that made them special was their quirks. Or at least one quirk in particular. Storms Hall had one floor that was co-ed. It was the fourth floor and the three floors below it were all girls. So for safety reasons, the vators were programmed to not stop on the first four floors after 10pm. If you wanted access, you had to either have a key to the stairwell that led to that floor or pound on one of those stairwell doors until somebody let you in. That was a pain in the butt for us who lived on thaat co-ed floor.
But there was always the quirky option.
We discovered that if you timed the emergency stop just right, you could pull it as the vator was approaching the co-ed floor. It would then stop and open. It wouldn't even set off any alarms to alert anyone. Sure, we could just not been lazy and walked up to the fourth floor, but where was the fun in that? It was much easier pulling the emergency stop. You had to time it just right though or you would end up on the 5th floor and have to repeat the whole process all over again. Needless to say that us folks who stayed there (and frequent visitors) had it down to a science.
It's amazing that there were never any serious crimes that took place since that trick was common knowledge. The girls really weren't too safe if all you had to do was pull the emergency stop to get on their floor. Yet there were never any assaults and/or sex crimes committed. I'm sure there was a LOT of shady stuff that went on behind closed doors, but it was all consensual. But it was seriously nice to know that no one ever took advantage of that trick to commit a serious illegal crime.
As I mentioned, Storms Hall is now gone. Razed a several years back along with Knapp Hall when ISU realized they couldn't hide the fact anymore that the two buildings were structurally unsafe. Gone with it are the Vators that provided us many good times. Including my episode with alcohol poisoning that almost cost me my life (you didn't know? You better search these archives!). However, the memories will stay with us forever. I know they do for me. Whenever I get on any elevator I immediately think of somebody running to it shouting that familiar phrase "Hold the Vator!" while I inevitably make the motion like I was trying to hit the open button and couldn't get to it in time. Ahh the memories...