I’ve often attended Christian writers’ conferences with hundreds of participants. Attendees squish so close into hotel elevators that we could receive organ transplants by osmosis.
Such unsolicited togetherness recalls college days when other music students and I — considerably skinnier than now — packed into elevators like Pringles® into a can. We made room for tuba players. Once, we squeezed the string bass section in and dropped a floor.
Dormitory elevators also presented perils. Picture riding morning elevators with a thousand women, all having a bad hair day. Or sneaking to your room at 3 a.m., hoping to avoid trash can terrorists. These attackers prowled outside elevator doors with full cans of water, waiting to douse their victims.
As a child, though, I loved elevators. An early memory recalls a department store where the elevator operator exchanged pleasantries with me. Like a fairy godmother, she made the windowless little room rise as if it possessed wings.
I gasped, then giggled. Other nice people in the elevator laughed with me.
“Look at her eyes.” One gentleman sounded as if he wanted to borrow my joy.
But kids grow up. Eventually I, like other grown-ups, discovered official Elevator Etiquette, listed below:
- Never look other passengers in the eye or initiate friendly conversation. These will make the elevator drop.
- The person whose destination is the farthest must occupy the front. She is required to bring seven suitcases, a rolling office, and a large, predatory parrot on her shoulder.
- No elevator’s population should exceed that of Indianapolis.
- Smiling is restricted unless adults are accompanied by children.
- Lighted numbers must be scrutinized by all passengers. Otherwise, the elevator will drop.
- Passengers under age 12 are required by law to jump up and down, preferably while eating ice cream cones.
- Adults should not. But they may bring overflowing cups of beer.
- Follow posted emergency procedures — even if the fire alarm, gunshot or rattlesnake’s warning is only mimicked by a passenger’s cell phone ringtone.
- In a glass elevator, passengers must never face outward. Otherwise, atrium spectators will be denied a traveling view of their backs and butts.
Fortunately, most attendees of the aforementioned conferences break these rules. Though we compete for space, oxygen and publication of our writing, we smile a lot. We introduce ourselves: “Oh, so the elbow mutilating my right kidney belongs to you. Glad to meet you. Where are you from?”
We press buttons for others and hold our collective breath to accommodate new passengers. Twice, a fellow passenger took my heavy box of office folders, giving me a temporary, but much-needed, break.
Flouting Elevator Etiquette together helps make it an uplifting experience for all.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like to ride elevators?