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:
- 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.
- Please allow people inside the elevator to depart before rushing inside and making a clumsy transition.
- Maintain 6 to12 inches of personal space, at minimum, around your body when choosing where to stand.
- Always face the direction of the doors.
- 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.
- Refrain from striking up conversations, especially with complete strangers. They don't want to talk to you anyway.
- When exiting the car, follow the same rules stated in step one. Ladies first, and one at a time.
- 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.
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!