Sunday, July 8, 2012

Elevator Etiquette

If there aren’t the slow-going escalators to annoy me, then there are the elevators.

With escalators, at least, I can run up or down them making my to-and-fro a little quicker. But the sight of an elevator has me rolling my eyes higher than the penthouse. It would be faster taking the stairs, of course, but in some places where you have to travel five or eleven floors up while balancing boxes and bags in your arms, you have no choice.

Even though the time spent within the claustrophobic four walls is minimal, a lot can happen (wink wink) when travelling between floors. Aside from the moments of manic panic where I imagine the suspended sardine cans are hanging by dental floss, it’s a people-watching haven; a mine of exposed human nature oddities and a test of manners and social etiquette.

Whether in an office building, condominium, or hospital, the confines of the panelled, mirrored or glass-walled cube presents may problems. You can seal a deal (think contracts, publishing, sales), or you can ruin your reputation (think nasty Ms. Fink who lives two doors down from you in your apartment building – oops, the doors closed in her face and your hands were too full to hold open the doors).

Elevator-riding is often not the most welcome for everyone. Claustrophobia or social-phobia makes many forget their social graces, nervousness taking the lead. Small talk is necessary, especially when riding with the ‘who’s – who,’ but even taking a vow of silence for a 30 second ride can make those critical seconds feel like hours. It’s okay not to make small talk, but be careful - that vow of silence can make many feel snubbed. Practicing an acknowledging nod comes in handy.

Whatever the issue, there should be a list of elevator etiquette posted – a list of social graces, and `things to think about` when riding in the suspended coffins. These are just a suggestion, mind you, but at least when riders are staring blankly at the walls, the grains in the panelling suddenly the most interesting thing in the world, at least we would be learning how to better ourselves.

1. If you are alone, no problem. Just be aware that sometimes hidden security cameras could be watching your every move; careful adjusting undergarments (undies, bras, etc). The knowing smirk from the security guards or front desk clerk will be surely telling.

2. When the crowds pile in, now is not the time to flick, fluff, or tie up your hair.

3. Don't slurp coffee or eat. Every swallow, chew or gulp is instantly amplified. Being shoulder-to-shoulder with someone as they slurp and smack their lips over their tuna sandwich is not attractive. And don't smack your gum like it's cud.

4. Do not peel a banana and eat it. It`s gross and I don`t like it. I like bananas – just not listening to others eat them.

5. If your cell phone rings, don’t answer it. Again, everyone can hear everything. If the call looks important, quickly plow through the crowd, press the button for the next floor, and jump off just in time. Don’t catch your heel, though.

6. If at a business function where elevators will be your main form of transport, you might want to consider changing your ringtone from the `Rocky` theme song. However inspiring ring tones like that may be to you, might not be so inspiring to others. You will be met with chuckles and guffaws – your future boss, agent or landlord might be riding beside you.

7. Chit chat is not obligatory; a nod or 'hello' is enough. Briskly turning your back to everybody, with your nose pressed up against the door while staring blankly at the metal is a tad rude – and frankly – odd. True, we are not there to make best friends, but don’t be a weirdo – just be polite. Continuing a chat with your co-worker about a nasty boss while others are around is not such a hot idea. You never know who`s around, who knows who, etc. No whispering either. Again, everything is amplified, and others will still strain to hear what you are saying. Didn’t your mother ever tell you it’s not nice to whisper?

8. If you are trying to discretely tap away on your phone, be warned - everyone is curious, and you never know who is peering over your shoulder to see who/what you are chatting to/about. If you do insist on tapping away, no squeals or guffaws at what you just read. Everyone will look at you curiously, then you will be embarrassed, and will have to explain and fumble along saying things like 'you had to be there,' etc, etc.

9. If you are looking for something in the bowels of your purse or bag, be warned – EVERYONE will be watching and WILL be able to see everything in your bag.

10. If you goof up on all the above, keep in mind that people WILL roll their eyes about you as you leave.

11. Don't stare - it's creepy. The emergency buttons are there for a reason - people WILL use them.

And if all these rules are a tad too much for you, stick to stairs; they're good exercise and less stress. But try not to trip the person passing you. That's not very nice, either.


  1. Hmmm.... I rarely use elevators but I think I'm going to ride them more often. Sounds like a lot of fun ;) Janelle

    1. Lots goes on in those people carriers, Janelle (and not always the 'wink wink'). Thanks for stopping by and reading! Lisa