The Woman Who Thought She was Going to Be Robbed by a Black Man (or Men) on The Elevator-Fiction!



Summary of eRumor:
A woman at a resort (sometimes a hotel, sometimes a casino) gets on an elevator with one or two big black men.  She becomes frightened, then hears one of them say, “Hit the floor.”  She reacts as though she’s about to be assaulted when the man who spoke simply asks what floor she’s going to and offers to hit the button for her floor.  She’s embarrassed.  The next day she receives some flowers (and sometimes money) along with a note from the black man saying it’s the biggest laugh he’s had in years.  He signs it and it’s the signature of an internationally famous black performer or athlete.

The Truth:

According to Urban Legend expert Dr. Jan Harold Brunvand, variations on this story have been circulating since the 1970’s and have featured the names of numerous well know black men.  Several of them have publicly denied that the incident ever happened to them.  One of the unfortunate aspects of this story is that it keys into false racial stereotypes and is often believed by people who are racially prejudiced.

6/16/03-A version of this eRumor that is circulating widely right now says the story was told on the David Letterman show and happened to a woman gambling in Atlantic City.  She was carrying a bucket full of her winnings from slot machines up to her room and thought the black men in the elevator were going to rob her.  They turned out to be Eddie Murphy and Michael Jordan.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

A real crack up – must read to the bottom.

For anyone who hasn’t already seen David Letterman’s take on this: This is a True Story…

On a recent weekend in Atlantic City, a woman won a bucketful of quarters at a slot machine. She took a break from the slots for dinner with her husband in the hotel dining room.

But first she wanted to stash the quarters in her room. “I’ll be right back and we’ll go to eat,” she told her husband and she carried the coin-laden bucket to the elevator.  As she was about to walk into the elevator she noticed two men already aboard. Both were black. One of them was big..very big… an intimidating figure. The woman froze. Her first thought was: These two are going to rob me.

Her next thought was: Don’t be a bigot; they look like perfectly nice gentlemen. But racial stereotypes are powerful, and fear immobilized her.  She stood and stared at the two men. She felt anxious, flustered and ashamed. She hoped they didn’t read her mind . Surely they knew her hesitation about joining them the elevator was all too obvious. Her face was flushed. She couldn’t just stand there, so with a mighty effort of will she picked up one foot and stepped forward and followed with the other foot and was on the elevator.

Avoiding eye contact, she turned around stiffly and faced the elevator doors as they closed. A second passed, and then another second, and then another. Her fear increased!  The elevator didn’t move. Panic consumed her.  My God, she thought, I’m trapped and about to be robbed!  Her heart plummeted. Perspiration poured from every pore.

Then … One of the men said, “Hit the floor.

Instinct told her: Do what they tell you.  The bucket of quarters flew upwards as she threw out her arms and collapsed on the elevator carpet. A shower of coins rained down on her. Take my money and spare me, she prayed.  More seconds passed. She heard one of the men say politely,

“Ma’am, if you’ll just tell us what floor you’re going to, we’ll push the button.” The one who said it had a little trouble getting the words out. He was trying mightily to hold in a belly laugh. She lifted her head and looked up at the two men. They reached down to help her up.

Confused, she struggled to her feet. “When I told my man here to hit the floor,” said the average sized one, “I meant that he should hit the elevator button for our floor. I didn’t mean for you to hit the floor, ma’am.” He spoke genially.  He bit his lip. It was obvious he was having a hard time not laughing.

She thought: My God, what a spectacle I’ve made of myself.

She was too humiliated to speak. She wanted to blurt out an apology, but words failed her. How do you apologize to two perfectly respectable gentlemen for behaving as though they were going to rob you?

She didn’t know what to say. The 3 of them gathered up the hundred dollar bill.

The card said: “Thanks for the best laugh we’ve had in years.”

It was signed,

Eddie Murphy & Michael Jordan