Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stories About Elevator People

Over the years I have worked in many places and many settings, but never before three weeks ago had I worked in a large, high-rise office building.

Thus far, I have averaged four elevator trips a day, many of which have been solo, and several of which have been shared with complete strangers.

And one of which was shared with someone I went to elementary, middle, and high school with, and also college.  I hadn't seen this person since we graduated; apparently without school to thrust us together, we were incapable of keeping in touch.

Until we met on the elevator.

"Becky?" he asked incredulously my first Friday on the job.

"Whoa, do you work here?" I asked.

The more I continue to ride the elevator, the more I see the potential for a regular blog feature.  My God, the complexity of elevator etiquette alone is enough to fill volumes.  For instance, I've noticed some people tell me to "have a nice day" as one of the two of us leaves the elevator and some don't.  If they do, I usually respond in kind...though not always.  Today, in fact, I was told to "have a nice day" by a woman exiting the elevator before me, but she never once looked at me and she growled the words under her breath so I didn't immediately understand what she said.  By the time I'd worked it out, the doors had closed.  I felt halfway guilty for not returning the sentiment...but then maybe not, because something tells me she wasn't being entirely genuine when she said it.

Another time, I got into the elevator on my way home and shared the ride to the parking garage with a strapping young lad who was staring intently at my purse.  It was weird enough that I turned to look at him and he jerked his head up.  "I was just looking at your bag!" he said, before resuming his staring. 

I took the initiative that day.  I told him to "have a nice day."  But that was mainly because I wasn't quite sure what was going on there and thought perhaps I should do a good deed to override whatever bad karma had landed me in the elevator with him to begin with...

The more I think about it, the more awkward sharing an elevator is.  It's a tiny space.  The person (or people) with you spend every day in the same building, just like you do, but you have no idea who they are or where they go when they get off on their floor.  Who was that guy who all but danced around in the waiting area after punching the "down" button today?  What about the woman who primped her hair in the mirror for the entire ride and then sighed heavily as she left?  Or the man who talked to me about the heat?  Is he keeping up with watering his plants?  I'd never recognize him if I saw again, but in half-a-minute's time, I learned without a shadow of a doubt that he is a man who loves his plants.

It's fascinating.  Clearly, this will have to be a series...


  1. PG we must have been parted at birth .....
    that's why I have a love/hate relationship with elevators - and even sometimes wait for the "next one" before I get in.

    Sometimes the people wanting to enter with you are just too weird or plane ignorant or talkative.......... so many things I don't want in an elevator - especially if I'd get stuck - I'd rather get stuck alone............

    And you have no idea about how small elevators here are - sometimes - there is hardly enough space for 2 people in some, but the thingy on the wall says: 4 people O.O" WHAT THE HECK??? In staples or what???
    btw I always get the feeling that those producing elevators like to cram people - the elevator never seems to be big enough for the number of people that thingy says shall fit in there...............

    And I hate being in the elevator with people from my company - but I never work with - you know eachother but still: What the heck should you say??? It's like being stuck with a cobra and you just wait for it to bite you because you can't go nowhere.

    The other day I was in there with the CEO :-X he came in right after me and I just wanted the elevator floor to open -.- and he said smth and I said smth - comlpete nonsense xD

    And now I wrote a blog too *sorry* :(


  2. All I know about elevators is that in some cases your voice travels and people waiting on lower or higher floors can hear your converstaion. It can be arkward. Just so you know i would want you to get into any embarassing situations where you feel you might have to write about yourself ;)

  3. Oh my God, Sam. I am laughing SO HARD!!!! Note to self: Do not loudly talk about anything dealing with my life in Ireland when riding the elevator at work... :D Dear. God. That was probably among the top ten most embarrassing moment of my life. Ha!!

    Sasha, write a blog in the comments anytime! :) I love that you said you sometimes wait for the next elevator; I did that for the first time today (and foresee it happening many other times in the future).

    The smallness of elevators is something I definitely always remember about being in Europe. In my building (of course) they're relatively large and there are tons of them (twelve, I think?). And yet still there is the potential to wind up in some awkward situations... I guess the upside is that at least they don't seem dangerous! Trying to cram too many people into one elevator does NOT sound like a safe idea.

    I can just imagine you and your CEO!! How funny. And AWKWARD! Well, now I know that whenever I write one of these elevator entries, you'll definitely understand the craziness of what I'm talking about. :) Yay for elevator camaraderie!!

  4. PG :) thanx for allowing me to write blogs when I don't find an end to tell you about things xD

    Oh definetaly, once you started to wait for the next elevator, you go on doing it.

    I don't think german elevators are dangerous, as there are strict regulations and examination - but it seems they don't consider your own privacy space or anything when counting the number of people would fit in there - or they just have the amount of kg and part that thru the average adult weight O.O" I just don't know. If I ever get to see elevator-builder-guys I'll definately ask :)

    I made a huge sigh of relief once I left the elevator (it was after work) and the doors closed.

    I will absolutely understand it. :D #Yay-elevator-weirdo-camaraderie ;)


  5. I was totally thinking about doing this on Facebook--an Elevator Conversations series. So far at this job I have: met a bus driver who showed me all his cell phone pics of what he thought was Air Force One when Obama was in town, been asked to define "britches" for someone's elderly mother, and of course the famous congratulations on my non-pregnancy from a nurse. Among other things.

    And I absolutely wait for the elevator sometimes if the situation is not to my liking. I kind of hate riding with people because there's that weird "Do I make eye contact?" question, and my answer is almost always to avoid eye contact.

    At my job in Pgh I would always dread riding in the elevator with the creepy, gregarious security guard, who once shoved a plate of half-eaten cake right in my face and asked if I wanted a bite. Our relationship was never the same.

  6. ahahahaha Melissa - the cakething is hilarious xD


  7. Melissa, I think I should hand this series over to you; you have way better stories than I do!

    I'm with you on making eye contact. I never know where to look, but into the eyes of a stranger whilst locked in a tiny, moving box does not seem the right choice. I had another incident yesterday of someone wishing me a nice day, but she pointedly did *not* look at me and in fact stood in front of me, back to me, for several long, strange seconds before she said it. Perhaps this is the standard? Saying "have a nice day" but making sure you never once look at the person you're saying it to?

    My God, the complications of it all...

    Sasha, glad to hear the elevators are safe!! I guess in a way it makes more sense that a smaller, stronger elevator could hold a lot of weight, but you're so right about personal space!! (I need my personal space in *any* circumstance, so that's a big issue for me.) :)

  8. ahahahaha talking about private space - I even use the "close doors"-button when people coming xD #MeBadGal