The Great Elevator Brigade

As someone who takes the elevator up to the tenth floor everyday, I have to say, people milling around elevators are a source of great exasperation. This is not because of the waiting you have to do with them around, but because the deep lack of logic in an average person’s mind hits you with the force of a giant brick wall over and over again.

After years of observation and note taking, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are six different kinds of such people who ride in elevators.

The first one you come in contact with are those that do not understand that elevators are vector quantities. All they care about is the absolute value of the number of the floor the elevator is on, not the direction of its motion. They’re the ones who wait on the 0th floor in front of the elevator that they just missed and is now at the 1st floor and climbing, while an elevator from the third floor descends on the opposite side. The lit up arrows make no difference whatsoever to these folks because one is closer in number to zero than three is.

The second are those that don’t understand how to call an elevator. It’s quite simple, really. If you want to go up, you press up; if you want to go down, you press down. Elevators are designed well because they are designed for the lowest denominator: the ones who suck at having a thought process. But the loud twenty year old who just graduated from his teenage years and proves his coolness quotient by wearing sunglasses all day inside the building lobby will press the down button on the elevator that’s on the fifth floor to get to the thirteenth floor, because the elevator has to come down. He will also be supremely nonplussed and outraged every time the elevator decides to go down instead of taking him up, causing him to slowly become a cynic of the system. Quite sad, but also, quite irrelevant.

Then come the third group of people who take elevators up one floor, or worse, down one floor. These are the people who think the building guards need to spring up to attention and salute them as they walk by. Their sense of entitlement is high and their reasoning is infallible — if there is an elevator that can take me down one floor, why can I not use it?

The fourth are those that will get into the elevator that everyone else is getting into, even if there are other free elevators just waiting there with their mouths agape. Sheep Mentality kicks in without second thought and everyone piles into the same elevator despite second elevators. They look doubtfully and almost longingly at the other empty elevator going up, but won’t get out of the one they’re in, because no one else is doing that. Go where everyone goes, do what everyone does, stay safe.

The fifth kind are the ones for whom I reserve my special incredulous looks. They are the compulsive floor button pressers; the ones who think punching their floor button is the solution to every problem in life. These people enter in the elevator, see that a floor button is pressed, don’t care, press it again. Because otherwise, the elevator might stop only for the other guy, you know? It’s almost like an uncontrollable reflex. They’re the ones who keep jabbing at the button in an effort to make the elevator go fast, like the button is an ascending accelerator. They’re the ones who press on their floor’s buttons, or sometimes, any other floor’s buttons, to get the door to close. The door close button, meanwhile, has the most dejected look on its face.They’re the ones who try to press the sensor on a paper towel dispenser despite it saying loudly and clearly, “MOVE YOUR HAND IN FRONT OF THE SENSOR. DO NOT TOUCH THE SENSOR.”

The sixth kind are the ones who do not understand that you can most likely not be able to speak on the phone inside an elevator. “Hello? Hello? HELLOW CAN YOU HEAR ME I CAN’T HEAR YOU HELLOW?”

Every day, I run into at least one of these people one my way up to work. Yesterday, though, was a particularly eventful day for me. I met all of these people, rolled into one.

As I walked towards our building’s crowded eight elevator area, I noticed a certain.. uhh.. gentleman, wearing baggy jeans, an open blue shirt over a bright yellow tee, talking on his phone. He might have been in his very early twenties and sported an uneven mustache. He was standing beside an elevator that was going up and was passing the 3rd floor. We were on the 0th. He quickly spotted another one coming down a few feet away. He sprinted to it and promptly pressed the down button on it. We have a basement at -1. I shook my head inside my head, and went to stand beside the elevator that was descending and had the up arrow pressed. Elevator #2 came down and opened up, indicating it was going down to the basement. People filed into it, including Mr. Baggy Pants. One other person waited back with me. As #2 went to the basement and then proceed to come back up and stop at our floor again, mine opened up. The two of us went in, staring at the other packed elevator that easily had thirteen people in it, who were all now looking back at us awkwardly with lingering doubts on how practical it would be to cover the chasm of a six feet hallway to cross over to our elevator. Baggy Pants, who seemed to have had lost his phone signal in the basement, pluckily jumped out in an ungainly manner, calling out, “Ma’am please wait lift!” 

Like Kulsoom Abdullah, I thought, but kept my joke to myself.

I held the doors, while he sprinted out of the elevator and abruptly, like he was suspended in animation, slowed down to an amble as his elevator proceeded to close and ascend. He then decided to take out his phone and restart his previous call. He came close to our elevator and started yakking, one hand resting on one of the elevator door to keep it open. “Yeah today interview and I am too nervous, yaar! But I have confidence so I think I am do good.”

Neither my co-passenger nor me knew how to react to this sudden shift from comical to assertive demeanor, so we did nothing. He made us wait for about 30 seconds, before I pointed to my watch. He nodded and got in, still talking, and pressed down on the 10th floor button: the same button I had already pressed. I rolled my eyes. He repeatedly poked his finger into it till our door closed, talking away on his phone about his interview in a few minutes at my company.

Midway through our ascent, he started bellowing into the phone about not being able to hear the other party and hung up sheepishly, looking around wondering what to do next. I ensured maximum awkwardness by not breaking eye contact with him and continuously rolling my eyes till we both got off the elevator, of course. We got off the tenth floor and I went to my desk, hoping he do good too. It’s always handy to have such people around for blog inspiration.

Later in the day, I went up to the cafeteria on the thirteenth floor for a snack and chanced upon the guy at the eleventh floor stairwell as I going down back to the tenth. He was with a friend and was predictably talking on the phone. I purposefully hung back because I had decided I want to write a blog post about this guy. His friend apparently was tired of waiting around for him to get off the phone, so he indicated with his fingers that he was going down the stairs to the 10th floor. Mr. Baggy Pants replied, “Okay, okay, you go. I will finish my call and I will go down on you.

Naturally, he went back in and took the elevator down one floor to go down on this man.

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3 comments on “The Great Elevator Brigade

  1. JK

    Maximum awkwardness! Yikes! You do good with this post, yaar! 😉

  2. Andre C. James

    Hilarious. I sometimes belong to group 5 when I really need to pee

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