Friday, July 20, 2012

Elevators, Making Strangers Awkward for Over a Century

Is there anything more awkward than riding in an elevator?  I submit that there is not!  There's basically nothing you can do once you get in and press your button, except wait there, facing forward and upwards, avoiding eye contact and making only the most brief of conversations--"good morning" and "have a nice day" being the extent of it.  This is because the elevator ride requires close proximity with complete strangers but for such a brief time that there's no point in getting to know the other riders. 

From time to time you get that fellow rider who wants to take it a step further--they're thinking, "hey, why not make a friend here in the fifteen seconds before one of us has to get off?" and so they'll say something about how it's the last day of the week (as a fellow rider mentioned to me this morning) or the extreme weather we've been facing.  Usually, though, no one tries starting a conversation that cannot possibly be finished in the short duration of the elevator ride, such as "hey do you think today's unemployment numbers will boost Obama's chances of re-election?" or "do you know anything about pulled pork sandwiches?  Because I need to make them this weekend for my inlaws, and we're out of vinegar."

Then of course there's the person who is far to nervous to be talking with strangers, as happened yesterday.  After the perfunctory "hey, just one more day" talk, this fellow rider thanked me after he got off at the lobby, but BEFORE I was able to say "have a nice day".  I spent much of my ride home wondering what I was being thanked for.  Was my response about "TGI Thursday" really thankworthy?  Did I manage to turn around a stranger's rather glum day?

I'd like to think I did!

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