Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

October 10, 2001 | Volume 2, Issue 8

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Electronic Voice Unit Diagnosed With Pharyngitis

Preliminary cultures suggest gonococcus to blame

HOUSTON, TX--The computerized elevator system that calls out floors in Houston's Petroleum Place Towers was removed from service after severe pharyngitis resulted in malfunction. The SV-200 synthetic voice unit had previously called out floor numbers in a deep, male, mid-Atlantic-accented baritone for over four years.

Officials report that, in addition to mispronouncing numbers for the past two days, the unit was also saying "mezzanine" when the elevator was in fact on the the second floor.

Malfunctioning elevator
voice unit

"All I know is that on Tuesday the elevator was talking just fine," said Aldo Olivieri, an administrative assistant who works on the 12th floor. "Wednesday morning, it got raspier and raspier, and by the time I took my afternoon break, you could hardly hear it."

The unit was pulled from service early Thursday morning.

According to an anonymous elevator technician, the unit's voice synthesizer module appeared to be erythmatous and swollen, and was coated with a thick, purulent discharge. Preliminary cultures of the material suggested that the causative pathogen is likely to be Neisseria gonorrhea, a common cause of sexually transmitted pharyngitis.

Like many nowadays, the Petroleum Place Tower elevators are equipped with security cameras located inconspicuously above the unit's Lite-Touch™ keypad. And while videotapes have not been released to the media, a spokesman for Otis Elevators has confirmed that the voice system appeared to have performed "an unnatural act" on a consenting adult passenger five days prior to being taken out of service.

The identity of the elevator passenger is unclear, though staff at the Houston City Department of Health have initiated attempts to locate and treat the individual in question.

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