Aug. 26th, 2010

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This is not actually about the mechanics of elevators; I have no idea how elevators work-work. However, I feel like some people might need a primer on how elevators Work - taking the invisible, unspoken social contract of personal space and making some cartoons out of it because people in elevators are starting to really confuse me.

So, here's an elevator with one person in it. We'll call this person Bill.

Having an elevator to yourself is a dream come true! Spread your arms wide, twirl, relish your tiny, ascending luxury apartment. Do the Mashed Potato if you want!

As more people enter the elevator, things obviously get more cramped and more complicated (now if you want to dance you'll probably have to partner up, and that gets awkward, and it's a whole thing.)

But in general, the rule of thumb for anyone with the common sense of a pigeon would be to maintain some kind of equilibrium in the space between people, while trying to avoid blocking the doors until it can't be helped any more.

So, as the elevator fills up, it looks like any combination of these:

In each of these, people are attempting to give each other a little cushion of space. Bill is fine with this. This is how elevators work. Everyone's doing a very good job of elevatoring.

(In one of those elevators, we're actually ready for a game of Simon.)

Sometimes people know each other and are talking (usually at 50 decibels, about something awkward like state secrets or baby poop), and things go off-balance a little. That's okay! We're still fine:

Sometimes there is just nothing for it, and you are in an elevator during rush hour, and it's like this:

And that's also fine! It's an elevator, not a park. You try to avoid the guy who's bringing his bike up with him, and you get out of the elevator, and you live your life.

This, on the other hand, is the one I have been experiencing a lot recently:

I mean, I am pretty sure that unless someone is translucent, there is no reason for this configuration to happen. And yet, it has happened to me so often that I'm turning into that jerk who stands right near the button panels even if the place is mostly empty. But what can I do? Crime begets crime!

I guess the rule of thumb is this: if you are close enough to someone to perform dental work on them, and there is space available elsewhere, maybe consider sidling a few inches. Enjoy your stay in the elevator!


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Genevieve Valentine

September 2010

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