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Rodd Jokre

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Elevator Etiquette and Social Structure
By Rodd Jokre
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

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Thought up: 5.21.04 - 5:40pm
Written: 6.7.04 - 2:27 pm

(With brainstorming help from Laura Callahan)

It’s fairly amazing how human life has evolved I think. In the beginning, Fred and Barney drove to work in a car that was powered by their feet. Then, people used to change the channel on the television without using a remote - rumor has it they “walked” to the television, whatever that means. Nowadays people are flying across continents on huge metal birds; we have spaceships landing on other planets, toilet paper that is made from silk in the Andes somewhere, and elevators that take us to work on floors that are higher up than some small mountains! Technology has, and always will keep moving onward, and new rules of etiquette will have to be followed for each new idea. For instance, nowadays almost everybody has to get on an elevator to get to where they’re going. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a parking garage while shopping, or just morning commute up to your office, everyone uses elevators. The strange thing is this “elevatoquette” that is followed but never written, and everyone seems to use and abide by these rules.

1. When you get to the starting point of the elevator, always push the button. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first person there or the 15th. Clearly the elevator will come faster if you push it more times because inside every elevator system is a small rat or sometimes a small dog, that is running the controls inside the elevator. The more you push the button, the more animal shocking ensues. The more animal shocking that ensues, the faster the rat or dog will run around in the wheel and therefore, the faster the elevator will arrive. Animal cruelty groups don’t ever know about this because they make the dogs and rats sign non-disclosure agreements upon starting the job to tell nobody about this.

2. If you’re the only person on the ride to the next floor, and have pushed the button to get on the elevator at least 4 times, you must get on the elevator, choose your floor from the panel on the front left, and move promptly to the back right of the elevator so that the next person can push the button too, and you don’t have to get too close to this person and invade their space. Many people get confused at this point and will often times, just step directly back from the buttons in the back left of the elevator. If this is the case, you’re dealing with an “elevatorial rookie”. Worry not. The proper defense to this is to step into the elevator, BE SURE NOT TO WALK TOWARD THE PANEL! Press the floor button of choice by leaning over to the panel, do NOT walk up to the buttons, and press firmly and move to the back right corner of the elevator. Whenever possible, attempt to coax the rookie from the back corner in front of the buttons with either hand signals (the waving kind when you have the palm of your hand facing toward you, and the back of your hand facing away and a gentle “scooping” motion should be exercised to get them closer to you), or use a high-pitched whistle much like a baby walrus would use when trying to locate it’s mother. Don’t forget to flex your windpipe before attempting! This should either be practiced behind closed doors with an adult, or underwater with several other children.

3. Upon arrival of the 3rd and possibly more people be sure to scoot as far back in the corner as possible keeping in mind that you don’t want to have to come in physical contact with anyone under ANY circumstances. Suck in your gut if someone is wearing a backpack or a briefcase that is coming too close to you. If you ARE one of these people getting on the elevator, remember to first notice the novice riders and use the directions as described in the last paragraph. As an experienced rider coming on 3rd or 4th, remember to try wooing the rookies from the back corner nearest the buttons with the standard calls, but also keep in mind that you’re more than likely in the elevator with someone more experienced, as they are in the back right corner away from the buttons. Realize that this user probably tried to make a connection with the rookie and used the standard arm signals and whistling. At this point, deploy the emergency balloon from your back pocket to try and catch the novice off-guard and quickly pull them gently toward the middle of the elevator. Be SURE not to make eye contact with the person. Come to think of it, don’t make eye contact with anyone in the elevator, and if by chance you get caught making eye contact, just use one of the following phrases everyone always uses:

a. Hey! How’s it going! (Don’t expect a response, not likely to get one. If you do, it’ll likely just be,
“Good! And you?” Your response should be nothing more than,
“I’m good”, or
“Just fine and dandy!” If you have a lot of experience, (150-200 elevator rides) now would be a good time to insert the elusive 3rd contact,
“How was your weekend (or insert “night” if it is after Monday)?” Beware of the response to this, early elevator users may become sweaty and scared and possibly not be able to answer immediately. Recognize this as soon as possible and if it is, get off immediately at the next floor to avoid the “silence” you’ve created, and act like you’re going to your desk. Obviously you won’t have a desk, so just walk away from the elevator and wait for it to close, and when it does, start over from step 2.

b. “Hi!” (Promptly followed by IMMEDIATELY look up at the numbers on the elevator that tell where it is and where it is going, like you just can’t wait to see it go from 4 to 5 or 5 to 6, and so on. But whatever you do, don’t say anything after this is eye contact is broken.

c. If you don’t know the person, an obligatory smile again immediately followed by staring again at the numbers and watching them go up in anticipation that something exciting is coming in the next few floors.

4. The elevator should be getting full by now. When most elevators say there can be a maximum of 12 passengers at any one time, be reminded that it is true . 12 people CAN be on at any one time, but remember that they need to take into consideration many things when coming up with this number. It really means 12 people under the age of 5 that have no fear of being around other people and actually looking into their eyes, and/or people that don’t mind touching each other accidentally. Clearly, adults can’t do this. The elevator designers also take into consideration the fact that the average person is fatter than they used to be, so they really do know that 12 fat people will NEVER be able to fit in the elevator anyway. They know that, in actuality, only 4 large people can fit on any one of these babies. That's why they also display the maximum occupancy in weight, usually around 1200 pounds (lbs). On occasion, even larger people have slim patience, and will try to “stuff” themselves onto the elevator when 5 or 6 normal sized adults are already on the new-aged contraption. In this situation, you MUST at all costs, keep your eyes up and looking at the elevator arrows and act like it’s no big deal! Just squish in as tightly as possible and don’t ever say, “excuse me” at any point! Just have a disgusted look on your face like someone just ate 4 gallons of potato salad and fish guts. This will not only prove to others that you’re as repulsed as the next person by spending the next 40 seconds of your life being squished, but it will also so your professional ability to adjust to any elevator situation that may arise therein!

5. If you get on the elevator and notice that your floor has already been pushed. Act natural, and once again, IMMEDIATELY look up and start watching the numbers go up. This maneuver can be performed at maximum efficiency if you also pretend like you knew it was pushed all along by greeting one of your co-workers that you are certain works on the same floor! In this instance, give the complimentary phrase or motion as described in step 3, sections a-c. If no other people are using the elevator, this is where it may become a bit tricky to carry on a normal conversation with a co-worker. Normally, younger users won’t be able to fully comprehend what is happening here. A gentle “hello.” Is always a good way to start whether you’re a veteran user or beginner. If you stretch out the “hello” to sound more like “hhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllloooooooo”, then it might even get you to the next floor and you’ll kill two birds with one stone by killing the dead space, AND acknowledging the other elevator user! Caution! - This method should be used ONLY if you’re missing a chromosome. People will think that you’re a little slow anyway, but it’s worth it to kill dead silence!

6. If someone is coming back from a smoking break, and trying to squeeze their way into the elevator, don’t worry, they may have a strange smell to a non-smoker, but they believe it’s perfectly normal. Act cool. But once they turn their backs, refer to section 4 and act the same as you would with a larger person trying to squeeze on when the elevator is full.

7. On very rare occasions, people will come onboard while talking on the telephone. At first you may think that you want to utilize the smoker/larger person maneuver, but think again! This is an entirely new tactic all together! In this instance, you’re going to want to continue staring stupidly at the numbers on the elevator. Occasionally you can substitute looking at numbers for flyers posted in the fronts of some elevators, and that is also acceptable. Granted you’ve probably used it several times, but worry not, the people on the elevator don’t know that you’re just avoiding them! Continue staring! You’re going to need to eavesdrop a little bit on the telephone conversation now because you’re going to have to make a quick decision. If this person seems to be talking about work, decide if they’re talking down to someone, or berating someone. This will mean this person is a figure of authority. Again, this is decision-making time. If you’re a brown-noser, then promptly stick your tail between your legs and stand on your tippy toes and give this person as much space as necessary! If you’re against authority and social classes, continue to stand at the same location, and possibly even squeeze the space a little to force uncomfortable situations on the pompous user. Likewise, if the user is talking to a loved one, and you can tell that he/she is trying to end the call by using one of the following phrases:

a. “Well, sounds like a plan, I’ll talk to you later!”

b. “Looks like I’m about here, I’ll talk to you soon!”

c. “Ok, ok, ok.”

d. “ Looks like the alligator has finished with my legs. I hope you have a good day!”

e. “Shut up! I never want to talk to you again!”

Then it is alright to give them a little room. It’ll appear that they are frustrated and flustered and should be given the benefit of the doubt. Scoot 3-5 inches closer to the wall or person next to you.

8. As you arrive at your final destination don’t make eye contact again, and just blurt out, “this is me”, or “this is my stop”. People will recognize that you’re getting off and may say something like, “Have a good day!” At this point it is best to just wave, but once again, professional users may use the phrase, “you too!” Use caution though.

There are a lot of rules to follow and a lot of defining characteristics that need to be harnessed to have full use of and mastery of the elevator and it’s etiquettes. Many people will attempt to coach you differently on different approaches and delivery of these skills, much like anything. You’ll need a lot of practice, dedication, and repetition to full grasp these arts. But just give it time, because odds are if you’re reading this, you’ve:

a. Got a job and a lot of time on your hands.

b. A lot of time on your hands and no job.

c. You’re going to be looking for a job, and many job placement institutions are on floors higher up than the first floor. Therefore, you’ll need a basic Intro to Elevating class.

d. Thought way too much on an elevator at one time or another.
Over-thinking is the key to a successful elevator experience. Everyone in the box is thinking the exact same things as you.

1. Don’t get too close to him/her!
2. Keep my eyes pointed up!
3. If I’m going to look at someone, don’t turn my head because they’ll see that and look over and we’ll have an “awkward moment!”
4. That guy is smelly and/or rotund!
5. I hope my briefcase isn’t hitting her kneecap!
6. Hopefully nobody is looking at my butt and seeing the melted chocolate bar I sat on in the car!
7. That dude crapped his pants!

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Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 6/9/2004
Very well written...and very delightful and joyful read Rodd!!

Love Tinka!!

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