Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Elevator Etiquette: Observations of Riding an Elevator

One of the most fascinating social experiences is something many of us do every single day - riding in an elevator. I recently sailed on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. This ship contains several elevators, and you see just about everything when you ride on them.

When someone enters an elevator, they look to see who else is on it. They then make their way to an open space if there are others on-board. If the elevator is almost full, everyone on-board must move to make room for the newcomer. If there is not enough room, riders must wait for the next available elevator to arrive.

An interesting part of riding an elevator is that most people remain quiet while on-board. People who are having a conversation while waiting for one tend to put those discussions on-hold when they get on an elevator with strangers. But they'll start yakking away once they reach their desired floor and make their way out of the elevator. Riders also tend to stand so that they are facing the elevator doors. This is why eye contact is quite uncommon among riders who don't know each other.

Some people seem to consider an elevator to be just like their home. They leave trash on it, spill crumbs on it while grabbing a quick snack during a ride, and they even leave wine glasses on-board. I saw one on my cruise. I can't imagine what these individuals' homes look like if they feel the need to litter on an elevator. You never see trash cans on them, but people must think they are giant waste baskets that are also used - secondarily - to transport people from one floor to another.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fear that some people have of getting stuck in an elevator. I've never really had this fear myself, but after seeing the video from a few years ago of a New York man who was trapped in elevator for 41 hours, it definitely makes me wonder how awful it must be to be enclosed in a bubble for any unreasonable amount of time. My fingers are crossed that this won't ever happen (and that this blog post won't jinx me).

You might not think much of a 30- or 45-second ride in an elevator, but think about these things the next time you press the "up" button to go to your office or apartment. There is nothing like an elevator, and it's funny how these transporting systems change the behavior of every person who walks through those heavy doors for a vertical trip.