Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What To Do When Stuck on an Elevator?

There is a first time for everything. I had never gotten stuck on an elevator, mostly because I avoid them as much as possible. Haunted by an old childhood memory I honestly would rather take the stairs. And so it was, on one of those rare occasions recently where I chose elevator over steps, that I found myself stuck between the second and third floors. I wanted to panic but as I was not alone I had to remain calm. The other prisoner…I mean…person occupied herself by reading on her tablet, not really ignoring me but not open to friendly conversation. Her preoccupation left me wondering, what is the proper etiquette when stuck on an elevator?

Having experienced this for the first time, I must say it was different from what I had seen on old movies. Without things like tablets and smart phones (my phone could not get a signal) those fictional characters had no choice but to talk with each other while waiting for a rescue. If they entered as strangers, they exited as old friends: experts on each other’s history. If not focused on talking they spent their time trying to escape, one of them climbing out of the hatch which was always found in the elevator roof. The elevator I was in had no such escape route; at least none that I could see beyond the decorative lighting.

Having noticed pet hair on my fellow passenger’s coat, I wanted to know if she owned a pet. Was it dog or cat hair I wondered, guessing small dog perhaps one which frequented her couch. I would have asked but it seemed rude to interrupt her reading. And even as my curiosity remained unsatisfied, I have to admit just a bit of relief in not having to worry about holding my end of a conversation. My companion’s reading gave me the opportunity to relax in the company of my own thoughts.

Eventually we would be rescued from what very well might be my last elevator ride. Forty-five minutes of waiting while sitting somewhat silently on the floor is not that bad as long as you don’t think about how many shoes might have come and gone. Still there seems like there should be some rules as far as appropriate behavior in such situations. By default, shouldn’t being stuck on an elevator elicit lively conversation about family or perhaps about other adventures where things did not go as planned?

That I might know in the future, what is the proper response when stuck on an elevator with a person who is reading? What would you do? Would you attempt conversation or would you enjoy a moment of quiet relaxation?

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