Elevator etiquette

Let’s reflect for a moment and try to think back to the era when elevators were but a gleam in Archimedes’ eye, when the number of Louis Vuitton bags a girl owned did not serve as her social report card and when stairs were the accepted form of escalation. The safety elevator was invented in 1853 by Elisha Otis (yes, the same Otis whose name is forever imprinted on the Stanford tower’s distinguished elevators) and installed in New York City. Now we might complain and whine that the elevators are consistently broken and filled with urine and other liquids and solids of questionable sanitary levels. (Don’t worry Hecht-ites, that’s only Stanford). But perhaps we should take a closer look at the social advantages of these mechanical marvels.

Be honest: How much fun is the awkwardness that the elevators provide on a daily basis? To even get to the elevators, you have to pass through the glass doors (or the gates of hell, as they are affectionately known). Now, what is the correct distance between you and the following person when it is necessary to hold the door for them? Do gender and attractiveness play a factor? You’re damn right it does. If someone is holding the door for you, do you walk, speed walk or run? And what if you hold the door, the person walks in and then doesn’t even say thank you? Now that’s an awkward turtle moment if I’ve ever heard of one. The social triathlon of awkwardness has only gone through its first leg.

The second leg comes in the form of the wait. Oh how perilously long that wait in the lobby for the elevator can be. Why the hell are both elevators always stuck on floor 12? What could they possibly be doing at all hours that requires the use of both elevators? Does anyone even live on floor 12? No, I say. We should make waiting for the elevators a joyous experience, a glorious conversation orgy of sorts. It is an opportunity to diversify your college experience, meet new people and practice your pickup lines for a late night at the Grove. Let us enter the elevator.

Inside the elevator, we enter a whole new world. The first step is pushing the button. How angry does it make you when you reach for your button and someone pushes either 3 or even worse, 2? Now, if someone is clearly injured or has a cumbersome load on their person (i.e. laundry), then sure, take the elevator. But if you are so bold as to push 2 or 3 when you are both healthy and entirely unencumbered, then beware sir or sirette, because you may be making your last button push. Do not take this as a personal threat; take this as a general health advisory. If you do not have the capability to walk one or two floors up, then perhaps you should reconsider your life on this planet. As a wise man once said, “Respect Otis, and Otis will respect you.”

Tom Barnes is a freshman majoring in marine science biology.