Here’s a fun fact about me: I hate riding in elevators.
I know, I know: Hate is a strong word, and I try to avoid using it (see this post and this one – and, if you’re just plain hard up for reading material – this one). But I’m sticking firm to my verbiage here. I really, truly, wholly and absolutely hate it.
Don’t get me wrong – conceptually speaking, I actually really like elevators. I’ve spent the last six years of my life working in hotels; elevators have been a regular part of my daily routine. They are superbly convenient, a fantastic technological achievement.
As far as vertical transportation vehicles go, elevators are easily in my top five.
Here’s the thing, though: I have this incredible, inexplicable ability to attract awkward social situations to me like a magnet. If there is even a vague, remote possibility that there will be weird sideways glances or throat-clearing involved, you can pretty much guarantee that I’m within a five-foot radius. It’s honestly quite a talent; I should add it to my resume.
And from a sociological standpoint, elevators are a veritable cesspool of awkward situations. Put the two of us together, and the ensuing awkwardity* is enough to make Michael Cera cringe.
For instance: When I enter an elevator already occupied with a group of people, my internal seventh-grade wallflower makes an appearance. And I’m suddenly paralyzed with a terrifying realization:
These people have already been riding this elevator together.
That means they already have a history. They probably have several floors under their belt – who KNOWS what kind of inside jokes they might have established? Maybe they said, “Hey – the next time these doors open, let’s go all quiet and act like we don’t know each other. Then when the new person leaves we’ll burst into laughter about her chunky shoes and messy hair and glasses. Won’t that be funny?! SHHH, here she comes.” And I walk in, all clumsy and oblivious – a perpetual outsider.
I greet my comrades with the obligatory smile-eyebrow-raise, and consciously focus on the progression of floors with each audible DING. The silence is penetrating, and the awkwardity* palpable. So inevitably, when it reaches my floor, I trip over myself to get out.
…Only to realize, moments later, that it isn’t my floor.
This would be totally fine, if only I could maintain the presence of mind to pretend otherwise. But instead, my knee-jerk reaction is to whip around, stretch out my arm like the figurehead on the bow of a ship, and make a “G-UHHH!” sound as the doors close just beyond my fingertips.
My theatric tendencies momentarily set aside, let’s not forget that the entire population of the elevator just saw my completely embarrassing mistake and reaction. But even then I could probably still stand it. At least the doors are closed, I’ll never see those people again, it’s over. Take the stairs, move on.
But, of course, Murphy’s Law of Elevator Logic would not allow it. So of course, to add insult to injury…
The doors reopen.
My fellow elevator occupants – the damned jerks – have been kind enough to press the “door open” button for me. Which means I now have to walk back in, head down, and live with my error (and subsequent physical outburst) for another four floors.
Do you get what I’m saying here?
I could continue to itemize the other, awkward, elevator-related social experiences I’m referring to, but honestly, I think it would be more time-effective to list NON-awkward elevator interactions.
Like, oh I don’t know… taking the stairs.
*yeah, I made that word up.
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