Doors open. Enter lift. Push button. How hard can it be? Glad you asked, because it is never that simple…
Weep for me. I share a lobby with a group of primitive, uncivilized Neanderthals (no offence to Neanderthals). Here’s how many of them behave when they approach lifts:
1. On arrival at the lobby, they press the up button to tell the lift where they want to go, then the down button to tell the lift to come and get them.
2. Every few seconds they repeat the process, in the belief that doing so will make the lift come faster.
3. Every extra member of their group who arrives in the foyer does the same, because then the lift will realize that a crowd is building up and therefore needs to get a move on. When the lift arrives, new guidelines come into play.
a. Group A (those in the lobby) must force their way in before Group B (those in the lift) get out Otherwise you can’t tell who are the winners are and who are the losers.
b. The first person inside must use their body to cover the panel so no-one else can press their buttons.
Lift gives people two-minute pause from the rat race, so they are an ideal location for easing flatulence and enjoying a good belch. These rules are followed scrupulously in many cities in Asia and beyond. But your humble narrator and a friend have been recently attempting to start a little revolution by adopting a more creative mode of behavior.
Here’s how to play:
1.As each person enters the lift, say,“Hi! Glad you could make it,” then shake hand vigorously.
2. Hold the door open at ground level longer then necessary and respond to glares with “The lift is refueling.”
3. Speak into the panel microphone, “This is Alpha Bravo Elevator One to Control. Ready for departure. Over.”
4. When the lift begins to ascend, say, “Please turn off your electronic devices as they may interfere with the elevator navigation system. “
5. When someone presses a floor number, give them a strange look and say, “So. YOU’RE the one.”
6. If people are looking grim, suggest a group hug.
7. Whenever a guy in a dark suit gets on board, break into the James bond theme.
8. If someone tries to get in wearing a t-shirt, shorts or flip-flops, stop him, saying: “I’m sorry, the dress code is jacket and tie.” (This creates a more dramatic impression if you are wearing only your Speedos.)
7. When any male and female enter together, sing the wedding march (this works particularly well if they are clearly strangers).
8. As the lift comes to a halt, say, “Switching doors to manual,” to the wall panel and, “Goodbye. I’ll never forget you,” to the passengers.
My friend has other special tricks. He sometimes uses his Asianness to great comic effect in lifts. When entering, he asks:
“Is this the men’s lift?”.
When riding high-speed lifts with glass sides, he raises both hands, roller coaster-style, and says, “Wheeeee!”.
Sometimes he’ll take off his shoes and ask other passengers’ “May I share your elevator?”
The last time I was in a lift with him’ he decided to give a lecture to the other passengers on elevator etiquette’,
“When travelling in an elevator, the proper stance is to stand erect, with arms straight down touching the legs… your own legs,” he said, adding: “And always keep your destination safe from prying eyes by covering one hand with the other hand when pressing your floor number.”
A passenger pointed out that people would know what floor you arrive on anyway. He shook his head. “I vary my journeys, getting out at a different floor every day.”
Do the above and I assure you you’ll enjoy the same personal attention from the building management that my friend and I get.
By Nury Vittachi
Published in Reader’s Digest