Mid-week rant: elevator etiquette

While I was at work today, I noticed something that really irked me – and it’s not unique to my work place. If you work in a building with more than one level, you probably witness this on a daily basis too.
My frustration this morning (I’ll get to it, I promise) inspired my idea to have an ongoing mid-week rant.
This week’s gripe: elevator etiquette – or lack thereof.
Here’s how it materialized: I walked towards the elevator bank this morning and found myself standing beside another employee who was feverishly typing on her phone.
After a few seconds, the bell chimed, the doors opened and the employee standing beside me – head still down and fully submersed in BlackBerry zone – walked right onto the elevator without looking. She was so oblivious she bumped right into a gentleman who was waiting to get off. She barely looked up to mutter ‘sorry’ before she turned her attention back to her phone. She actually looked a bit annoyed I was holding her up as I waited for the surprised man to get exit.
I wish I could say this was a one-off, but I see it all the time. Even when people aren’t distracted by phones or an iPod, they still rush onto the elevator before waiting to see if someone might be getting off. Where the hell is the fire?
But this isn’t the only thing that irks me about elevator passengers. I’ve witnessed many annoying and downright rude behaviours during my time as a nine-to-fiver in an multi-level office building.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and have come to the conclusion that perhaps they just don’t know how to behave politely on an elevator. So, I’ve compiled a few pet peeves along with helpful suggestions that will ensure the comfort and safety of all elevator patrons – only if they’re executed:

  • When the elevator arrives and the doors open, take two seconds and check if anyone is getting off before you bulldoze your way on.

Think of it as right-of-way for elevator travels. You wouldn’t make a left turn in front of a vehicle coming straight towards you (at least, I hope not), so don’t cut in front of someone who has the right to exit before you get on. By having a quick glance, you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of knocking someone on their rear end or having to help them pick up whatever they dropped all over. By this point, the elevator will have continued on its journey – without you – and you’ll have to wait for the next one anyway. While it may like I’m exaggerating, you’re saving yourself time by taking the extra two seconds – trust me.

  • Hold the “open door” button for passengers who may be slower getting on or off.

Pretending to be on your phone is no excuse for letting the doors close on another passenger.I know this may be shocking to some, but not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to stroll on and off an elevator as they please. I’m sure the older woman with a walker or the young adult on crutches would really appreciate being able to get on the elevator without being squashed like a pancake by the doors while you pretend to look at your Facebook profile. Besides, we’ll all know you’re just being rude – most elevators don’t have reception.

  • Elevator placement. 

Sometimes we’re fortunate that we get to stand where we want to in the elevator car. Personally, I prefer leaning on a railing on the right side –it’s a comfort thing. While it’s great to have selection, it’s important to know that the location you choose may come with additional responsibilities. Standing in front of the control panel is like sitting in the emergency exit on a plane. You get the luxury of not having someone directly in front of you, but you also have to be mindful of other passengers’ needs.

  • If someone is getting on the elevator, it’s proper etiquette to ask which floor they’re going to instead of forcing them to awkwardly reach around you to press the button.

It’s even more important if someone has their hands full. Don’t force them to do a juggling act with their belongings if you have your hands free. Likewise, if someone is getting on or off and needs an extra second, hold the doors open. (See above). Finally, if you choose to stand in front of the doors like an eager beaver, make sure you step aside to let people on or off. Nothing says inconsiderate jerk like the person who forces passengers to bounce around like a pin ball between other riders and the door frame as they squeeze around you to get off at their floor. 

  • Unless you’re in a dire emergency, there’s no harm in waiting for the next elevator if the first one is full.

I don’t care how cutely you ask, no, we can’t just “squeeze you in”. Riding in an elevator is terrifying enough for some people without having the worry that the car is going to be over capacity because you don’t have any patience. The idea of being packed like sardines with strangers in a confined space isn’t enough to convince you? Throw bad hygiene and hot weather into the mix and you’ve got yourself an elevator ride from hell. See, isn’t it much better to wait?

What bad elevator behaviour have you noticed? What advice would you give to people?

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