Elevators are tight, confined spaces we share with complete strangers — so it’s no wonder there is all sorts of social decorum involved when we step inside one. They’re up there with bathrooms in requiring all sorts of unspoken rules and courtesies.
I ride in an elevator a few times a day and have been building a list of questions and complaints about these vertical boxes. Sometimes you unexpectedly ride with a frigid co-worker and it’s borderline intolerable, sometimes a cute girl gets on and you share a smile and some chit chat. Elevators are (excuse me for this) full of ups and downs.
What I’m wondering is:
How close does somebody have to be when it’s expected you hold the elevator for them? If they’re all the way across the parking lot and it will take over twenty seconds to reach you, but you make eye contact, is it rude to let the doors close on them?
Is it obnoxious to continue your conversation with your friend when there are other people in the elevator? And if so, isn’t it pretty awkward to quit your conversation because someone else joined you? Doesn’t that kinda give the impression you were talking about something inappropriate?
Why is it that sometimes people who are standing closer to the door wait for you to exit first when you’re behind them? You’re standing there waiting for them to move and they look at you like you’re the idiot! Come on, buddy, get the ef’ off! What are you waiting for?
Whistlers. Why the hell are you whistling?
And why do I always feel a wee bit of animosity towards someone who gets on the elevator and pushes a button for a floor below mine? ‘Really, lazy ass. Level one?’ I think to myself. I won’t walk up three flights of stairs but I am personally aggrieved if a fellow human won’t walk up two. This is hypocrisy on my part and I’m fully aware of it.
Then there are the people who put their head down and fully ignore you, as if even coming close to making eye contact will put them in danger of catching malaria. We don’t need to make small talk or goo-goo eyes, but a little smile or head nod will help ease the social awkwardness. Why do people do that? Is it that scary to be confronted with the presence of somebody you’re not previously acquainted?
Also, and this is not really a question, but I’ve noticed a sign before that read, “There is little chance of air running out or of elevator free-falling should lift become stuck” or something to that effect. I appreciate the words of assurance, but the presence of “little chance” in that sentence actually causes me more worry than before I had read your little placard. It means there is SOME chance of it. I actually don’t trust this elevator at all anymore. Thanks, jerks! Now I’m worried about suffocating to death with some whistling jackass who won’t even look at me.
Maybe I should just take the stairs more often.