Prior to about 4 years ago, elevators were just a randomly used transportation device for me. Primarily when I was at Disneyland in the parking structure, or at California Adventure (although THAT elevator isn’t quite normal). However, when my office moved from the bottom floor of an office building to the fifth floor of a different building, elevators became a daily ride. Several times a day. Even more if I took the elevator in the parking structure.
Ever since this move, I have had some of the most random, bizar, and awkward conversations take place in the elevator (and trust me, I have random conversations with complete strangers all the time, but the elevator ones tend to take the cake). Ranging from “I like your hair!” to “You smell like a blue snow cone” to “Your fingernails look like M&Ms” and (one of my my personal favorites) “If this elevator gets stuck, this is the pee corner”. Oh, or a recent one where two guys that I’d never met before decided they wanted to come to lunch with me (got out of that one). Elevator conversations provide some entertaining stories and Facebook statuses (stati?), but I’m here to make a rule (I’ve actually had conversations in the elevator about how there should be a rule book for Elevator Etiquette).
Rule #4: Do not feel obligated to make small talk in the elevator.
I really think some people feel like they have to talk in elevators, whether they’re with people they know or people they don’t. I’ve had someone try to sell me Mary Kay products in the 5 floor ride. The elevator is not a place to sell things. The elevator is a place for me to have a few moments of silence before helping people that know what “reboot” means, but do not know what “restart” means. Or it’s where I’m sending one last email before heading home. I tend to be a socialable person, but most days, I like the elevator to not be one of those places.
Special Note 1: It’s different when you’re in the elevator with someone you know. You still don’t need to feel obligated to talk, but it shouldn’t be awkward “I have shoes like those!” conversations.
Special Note 2: There have been times that when walking into our downstairs lobby, I’ll hide just out of sight as a door is closing just so that the person doesn’t feel obligated to say “Whoops!” and hit the “Open Door” button.
Special Note 3: There’s a whole other area of elevator etiquette that is just hard to figure out. When you’re already in an elevator, under what circumstances are you supposed to wait for someone to get on? If they’re 10 feet away, sure. But what about 20? Do you want them to feel like they have to run to get on - when you know they’re going to get on and say “sorry!”. So maybe you close the door if they’re 30 feet away.. unless you know them? And I suppose it depends on how many elevators are available and how long it will take for the next one to come - there are 2 elevators in our parking structure and 5 in the actual building, so wait longer in the structure? Or maybe if you just avoid eye contact with the person not in yet, then you don’t have to worry about it. I don’t know what the rules are for this one.. Maybe I’ll have to come up with one..