Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Aside: Elevator Courtesy

I have no doctorate in etiquette, but there are a few things I--even I--understand about elevator courtesy. These are the guiding rules of conduct that: a) facilitate easy transfer in and out of the elevator car, and b) promote kindness and consideration.

This is what I understand elevator courtesy to be:
  1. Allow people in the elevator car to disembark, and then people waiting to ride may board once the car is empty.
  2. Inside the car, men should allow women to exit first.
  3. Waiting to board, men should allow women to enter first.
Not comprehensive but it'll suffice for now. What I really want to cover now is Minnesotan elevator courtesy:
  1. Do not fill the elevator bay while waiting for an elevator; instead, line up outside in the hallway and block passage around the reception desk, waiting your turn to enter the capacious elevator bay.
  2. Women: short ones push to the front and board first; tall ones slink back or wait for the next one. Pretty women must sigh in frustration at cars with six or more passengers and flounce off all the way back to the button panel for the next one.
  3. Men: fancy lads push through women and men alike; old men enter next and really pack it in.
  4. When boarding an elevator, do not wait for the car to empty first but push ahead and prevent others from leaving. Otherwise the passengers might decide to ride back up again and leave you stranded.
  5. If you are trying to enter and are confronted by someone trying to leave, this is how you step aside: raise your eyebrows. That's all. In Minnesota, raised eyebrows symbolically represent getting out of the way, hearkening back to the late 1800s when people actually got out of each other's way. The raised eyebrows trick applies to all doorways and narrow hallways (or hallways where three or four of you are walking abreast and someone dares to walk in the opposite direction).
  6. When boarding, passengers going to the lowest floors--those who depart first--must enter first and file to the back of the car. Passengers going to the highest floors must board last and stand in front of the doors as though all the other floors will be skipped and theirs is next.
  7. When other passengers need to leave, riders to the highest floors must stand dutifully in place as though they haven't noticed the doors opening up. Riders to the low floors must murmur "excuse me" as quietly as possible. Riders to the highest floors must visibly startle and turn around with a surprised expression (do not confuse with "raised eyebrows" in no. 5) and shuffle awkwardly aside, giving the illusion of room to move past. Do not provide any actual room in which to move past. Repeat this process for every floor, looking surprised every single goddamned time.

2 comments:

Kristen said...

I yelled at a bunch of teenaged tourists for just this recently. My mother-in-law was struggling to get a stroller out of an elevator, around this group of kids, even after I (loudly) said excuse me, and made go-on-shoo gestures, until finally I snapped and said something like, "Get out of the way! I know you don't have elevators where you come from, but still!"

khlari said...

Oh for an elevator!!!! We dream of lifts.....but the benighted British public services barely stretch to stair-carpet......