Going Up?

How do you feel about elevators? Personally, I have mixed feelings. I really hate the ones that go painfully slow and make weird noises, but I'm also not a fan of those that travel at the speed of light, forgetting to take my stomach to the 34th floor with the rest of me.

My husband has this fetish about kissing in an elevator, and I LOVED the Meg Ryan movie Kate and Leopold, which is sort of about elevators. So, I don't hate them per se, but I'm also not crazy about being in a tight space with complete strangers. Does that make me claustrophobic or agoraphobic? Well, maybe a smidge. I think it's more that I hate the awkward silence that ensues the moment someone else steps aboard. 

Sometimes I ponder how to remedy those awkward moments. Really, if everyone observed the unwritten, rarely spoken elevator etiquette that holds the world together, we wouldn't have these problems. Sadly, elevator etiquette vanished along with the extinction of the elevator attendant, or "liftman."

Grand Budapest Hotel (movie scene), 2014, directed by Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes (bottom right)

With the loss of liftmen and the advent of self-serve elevators, a blanket artlessness crept its way into society. Perhaps, there are still a few elevator operators somewhere pushing buttons happily. In my attempt to research such things, I ran across a sweet, little Washington Post article about an operator retiring after 44 years of service. You should check it out.

Fun fact: did you know that, when the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, Otis Elevator Company was the industry leader and remained so for nearly a century? True. At one point, Otis Elevator Company owned and operated more than 1.2 million elevators, controlling about 22 percent of the world’s "lift market." Maybe we should blame Otis' engineers for making the modern elevator too efficient and no longer requiring a liftman to assist common citizens and hoisting us up to the next floor.

Whomever is responsible, I'd like to rectify the situation by laying some new-and-improved ground rules. I would greatly appreciate it if you would follow these simple guidelines, particularly if I'm there:


  1. If more than one person is waiting to enter the elevator car, let the ladies go first. If everyone's a lady, then kindly let the first person to arrive on the scene to go first.
  2. Please allow people inside the elevator to depart before rushing inside and making a clumsy transition.
  3. Maintain 6 to12 inches of personal space, at minimum, around your body when choosing where to stand.
  4. Always face the direction of the doors.
  5. Don't make eye contact. You may watch the floor numbers cycling through or you may stare at your shoes. Texting is also acceptable, if you do so quietly.
  6. Refrain from striking up conversations, especially with complete strangers. They don't want to talk to you anyway.
  7. When exiting the car, follow the same rules stated in step one. Ladies first, and one at a time.
  8. And for goodness sake, don't feel obligated to say farewells to the people you're leaving behind. It's not like this elevator is located in the Death Star.

Easy enough, right? 

Apparently not. I work in a building with only four floors, plus a basement. Not nearly as tall as the sky ticklers where millions of employees across the nation work every day. If I ride the elevator a dozen times a day, on average, then imagine how much more other Americans ride. We could potentially change the world just through elevator law reform!

Now, I know all of you rebels out there will probably buck against the very idea of formalized elevator legislation. You may even ask, "Why can't we be free to do something completely embarrassing and crazy on an elevator? It alleviates the awkwardness, and it's a free country!"

The answer to your question just might be yes. For those of us who cannot bring ourselves to follow rules, or have manners for ten seconds, I would like to offer an alternative.

TOP 25 STUPID THINGS TO DO ON ELEVATORS:

25. Push to get onto the elevator first, then stand in the corner, facing the wall, and never get off.

24. Meow occasionally.

23. Whistle "It's A Small World" over and over and over again.

22. Shake everyone's hand as they come aboard and ask them to call you Admiral.

21. Smack your forehead and grumble, "Shut up, ok? All of you just SHUT UP!"

20. Bring a chair with you, then use it.

19. Start itching and say in a creepy voice, "I must find a new host body."

18. Hand out name tags and say, "I suppose you're all wondering why you're here."

17. Stare and smile at another passenger. Then announce to him/her, "I have new socks on."

16. Press all the buttons, for every floor, and then lead the other passengers in a sing-along.

15. Bring a stethoscope and listen to the elevator walls.

14. Perform Tai Chi or Kung Fu motions as you ride.

13. Sing your own theme music.

12. Make explosion noises each time someone presses a button.

11. Walk on with a cooler labeled "Organ Transplant."

10. Open your bag or purse and say, "Hey, you got enough air in there?"

9. Draw a square on the floor with chalk and silently stand inside of it.

8. Ask to take selfies with everyone.

7. Each time someone gets off the elevator, say a teary-eyed farewell. Sniffle and wail, "Dang, I love that guy/gal."

6. When riding with only one or two other people, turn to another passenger and say with awe, "I can see your aura!"

5. Lay down a Twister mat and start playing by yourself.

4. Just before reaching your floor, turn and say, "Do you hear something ticking?"

3. When the doors open, pretend to bounce off a force field as you exit.

2. At some point, shout, "When are you people going to leave!"

1. Lean over to a stranger and with a serious expression say, "Hey, um, is your mom still having those... problems?"

DISCLAIMER: the author of this blog is in no way responsible for any social repercussions as a result of the above suggestions, and is in no way legally responsible for arrests or other altercations that may unfold after the use of said suggestions. 

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