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..
Rule #3: Dr. Pepper is not the same as Root Beer.
My default drink of choice is a Dr. Pepper. Oftentimes, I’m at a restaurant and when I ask for a Dr. Pepper, they’ll respond with “No, but we have Mr. Pibb.” That’s acceptable. That makes sense. There are several cross-brand sodas that are a logical substitute Sprite and 7-Up. Pepsi and Coke. Another bad “substitute” is when you ask for Sprite, and they offer Mountain Dew.
However, Dr. Pepper and Root Beer are nothing alike. Nothing. Other than the fact that they are a brown soda. But so is Pepsi. Root Beer is not an acceptable replacement for Dr. Pepper.
Don’t get me wrong - I actually like Root Beer! I just don’t like it when Root Beer is offered as comparable to Dr. Pepper.
Special Note 1: Actually, it is kind of entertaining that (I think) Coke and Pepsi don’t actually taste that much alike, yet they are considered the “other” choice. I don’t know anyone that is an “only 7-Up, no Sprite” drinker, but most people are either dedicated to either Coke or Pepsi.
Special Note 2: I don’t ever drink Coke or Diet Coke at all, but I’ll take Pepsi on occasion. I will randomly drink Diet Coke with No Caffeine, though. But only out of a can. And only after it’s been refrigerated.
Rule #2: Be aware of your surroundings before you ask for a piece of gum.
I think we’ve all been in that situation where we’re dying for a piece of gum, and we reach into our purse (or pocket) and as we pull out some gum, and the person next to you asks “Hey, can I have a piece?”. So you look at the four pieces you have left in the pack, and say “Sure!”.. And then the three other people standing around you look at you with their puppy dog eyes.. So you feel obligated to ask “Does anyone else want one?” and suddenly, you’re throwing away your empty pack in the trash can.
Sharing is caring. I’m all for that. But there’s just something about gum.
Because of this, I’ve decided that if you see someone pull out a pack of gum and they don’t offer any, look around before you ask for a piece. Are there other ears around that might think they need gum now, too? Is the gum owner now going to be down more than just two pieces of gum because you asked?
If the gum owner asks “Does anyone want a piece?” first, then it’s safe to assume that they’ve figured out the gum to people ratio, and they know they have enough to share. But if they’re asking everyone only after someone else has wiggled their way into their gum consumption, then politely decline - there’s a decent chance it’s out of obligation.
Special Note 1: Maybe it’s just me, but I know that when I use up a pack of gum, I’ll forget I’ve used it up and won’t restock. So because I’ve distributed the last of my gum sticks unexpectedly, I’ll be gum-less until I set my Reminders on my iPhone to remind me the next time I’m at Walgreens or Albertson’s.
Special Note 2: One way to guarantee that I won’t ask you for gum is to bust out some green gum. I don’t care what flavor it is, you can keep that green gum all to yourself.
Special Note 3: One of my best friends growing up used to ask for gum every single day. Every day, without fail after band (because you never chew gum during band unless you know that you can chew to time with whatever song you’re playing.. And also, it just might mess up your embouchure). It became a tradition of sorts. I also added onto that tradition by giving him a huge pack of gum (like, a box with 16 packs of gum in it) for his birthday and Christmas. He’d still always ask me for gum, but there’d be those random days where he’d remember that I’d provided him with own gum, and he’d reach into his backpack and pull out his own piece - and even offer me one. Gum does always seem to taste better when it comes from someone else though, huh?
And that is rule 2!
My friend Rebekah and I were talking about a status I’d written on Facebook a few weeks ago about nicknames (keep reading), and decided that we should write a book on “the little things”. As in “the things that everyone should know, but no one’s made the official rule about” - if that doesn’t make any sense.. Keep reading! So instead of a book or the notepad on my desk at work, I’m going to blog the rules. They may be silly rules. And they may be dumb. But I want to write them down. :)
Rule #1: Nicknames: Wait until you’re friends with someone before calling them a nickname.
“What’s the appropriate amount of time for someone to know you in order for them to start calling you a nickname (i.e. “Kels”)? I understand a quick transition from Nicholas to Nick (especially if they introduce themself as the latter).. But I feel like being able to call a Kelsey a Kels (or Bethany a Beth or Elizabeth a Lizzy) has to come later, and almost be earned.”
This status was inspired by someone that had not known me very long at all. And from the get-go, they called me “Kels”.
I really don’t mind people calling me “Kels” - I LOVE nicknames, terms of endearment (the most commonly used one these days is “kdub”), but there’s just something that rubs me the wrong way when I introduce myself as “Kelsey”, and the next day I’m “Kels”, with no other conversations in between.
I’m not actually looking for a specific “4 months” timeline, but I think there needs to be a growth in the friendship to be able to use a nickname. Not a set amount of growth, just something. If no growth, you should at least have their phone number. Heck, or maybe even just take that leap and be friends on Facebook (because, ya know, Facebook friendship means official friends) (please recognize the sarcasm in that). Just something that says “I know more than your name”.. Because if all you know is my name, and you decide to shorten or personalize it (the ONE thing you know about me).. That’s just odd.
Special Note 1: Rebekah brought up a very good point: If you are not good enough friends with someone to be able to tell them that you don’t like the nickname they’ve chosen for you, then you’re really not good enough of friends for them to be able to call you a nickname at all. Unfortunately, since you’re not good enough friends to be able to tell them you don’t like the nickname, you’re also probably not good enough friends to be able to hold that conversation with them without it being extremely awkward. Or maybe that’s the first step to helping the friendship grow? I’m not sure.
Special Note 2: My mom commented on my status that she has a hard time stopping herself from calling other people named Kelsey “Kel” since that’s what she’s always called me and it’s just habit. Rebekah even mentioned that she hates being called “Bekah”, but she’s okay with Selah and I calling her that only because she knows it’s out of habit because we have a plethora of Rebecca/Rebekah’s in our lives that shorten their names to Becca/Bekah. Ironically enough, Rebekah goes by “Becky”, but I have a hard time calling her that because several of the other Rebecca/Rebekah’s in my life hate being calling that. This is something though that I think we should have the courtesy of caveating when we catch ourselves calling someone be a nickname prematurely (or incorrectly) - “Sorry, it’s habit because….. I’ll work on it!”
Special Note 3: I will not spell a nickname different than how their official name is spelled (example, Rebekah would never be Becca). The only person that I let call me “Kelz” is my friend Catie, because she’s always called me that and it’s just her name for me. But if someone else were to bust that out, I’d shut it down. For some reason, the shortening of Jenna will always be Jen, yet Jennifer with always be Jenn for me. Stephanie will always be Steph, not Stef. Also, Selah is always shortened by be to Sel (pronounced “say”). I just can’t bring myself to spell it “Sey”.
And that’s rule number 1!