May 25, 2024
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May 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When you get into an elevator, you must immediately turn around and face the door. This is non-negotiable.

If an elevator has doors on either side, you have to guess which way to face. Or everyone can just stand sideways.

If everyone unanimously chooses not to face the door, that’s fine, as long as they’re all looking in the same direction. Never under any circumstances should people be facing random directions in a crowded elevator, you awkwardly confrontational weirdo.

The buttons in an elevator are in numerical order. You don’t have to take 10 minutes to pick one.

The only exceptions are the buttons that say random letters, like L, LL, UL, B, M, M2, R, PB, UB and LR. Those are just there to confuse you. They’re all secretly the same floor. In the old days, there was something called elevator operators, whose job was to get you to your floor, tell you what “Upper Basement” meant and initiate small talk. (“What’s the weather like? I have no windows.”) This was before elevators had buttons, so you needed a professional who would know when to stop the elevator. (“Now! Okay, we missed it. We’re going to have to come back.”)

If there are a lot of people and you’re the one near the buttons, you’re the Button Master. No one will thank you, though. It’s not like the days of elevator operators. And you don’t get to make suggestions either. (“Three, please.” “I hear the basement’s nice.”)

When the Button Master leaves or is assassinated, the person standing next to him assumes the role.

If you get to the elevator and someone has already pushed the button to summon it, you should push the button too, in case he didn’t do it right the first time. If the elevator knows that more people are waiting, it comes faster. It starts skipping stops to get to you.

Let people off before you get on. Unless they’re facing away from the door and have no idea you’re standing there.

Walking into a crowded elevator is awkward, because everyone is six inches away, facing you. It’s like a little surprise party when the doors open, because you have no idea who’s going to be there. (“Hey, it’s all the neighbors! And my mother-in-law!”) Maybe give everyone party hats and have them yell, “Surprise!” every time the doors open.

If you’re trying to get into an elevator when there’s no room, you can look around, make three attempts, and then apologize. (“Sorry for wasting everyone’s time.”)

If you’re getting on with, let’s say, a couch, and there’s only room for either you or the couch, don’t just get on and have the couch wait for you. Put the couch on and then run up the stairs and hope the elevator doesn’t stop on any floor in between.

If the elevator stops and you get off and you realize that it’s not your floor, don’t automatically get on so that everyone can scoff at you. “Hey, look who’s back. How was the wrong floor?” Just pretend you got off for a reason and wait for the next elevator. And pray that it doesn’t have anyone on it who was there when you got off. (“Yeah, I went up by mistake.” “Oh. I got off to check something.”)

This isn’t the subway. Don’t fall asleep and miss your stop.

The elevator phone is for emergencies only. For example, you can use it to call your rav during Sefirah to find out what you’re supposed to do about the elevator music. (The answer is that you should sound the alarm, which will overshadow it.)

Talking in an elevator is okay—and even recommended—because it distracts you from the fact that you’ve put your life and your kids’ lives in a box with one exit and no windows and you have absolutely no idea how it works. You’re guessing ropes are probably involved.

If you need a conversation topic, talk about the weather. An elevator is a great place to talk about the weather because you can say whatever you want, and there are no windows, so no one’s gonna argue. You can say, “It’s snowing outside,” and they’ll go, “Really?” And you’ll go, “Yup! In July!” And you know what? Who cares if you’re wrong? You’re never gonna see these people again. But for those two minutes, you’ll be a hero. You’ll have steered the conversation. And if you do run into these people again on future elevator rides, there’s your second conversation.

Some safe topics to talk about are things that everyone can agree on, like how you’re getting closer to the weekend. Non-safe topics are divisive issues that might lead to arguments in an enclosed space that may stop dead at any moment and leave you stuck there together for hours to hash it out, like politics, or whether or not the baby that just got on is cute.

If you don’t like awkward elevator conversations, the entire medical community suggests that you take the stairs instead.

The “weight capacity” is just there for decoration. Don’t think about it too much, especially on a crowded elevator. It’s definitely not an approved topic of conversation.

If the elevator stops, don’t panic. It’s not like there’s anywhere to run. Also, don’t suddenly read the “weight capacity” out loud and start pointing fingers.

The good news about the elevator stopping is that by the time you get off you can tell the people you’re with, “Well it was snowing when we got on yesterday.”

By Mordechai Schmutter


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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