Thursday, November 13, 2008

Going up

If you've never done this, as an experiment, try it.

Find an elevator system that gets lots of use. Wait for a car full of people, get in and then stand in the front of the car, with your back to the doors.

Watch how nervous the other passengers get. Most of them won't even realize why they are upset, but I guarantee you will see the symptoms. Lots of eye movement. Shoulder and arm twitches. Foot shuffling.

Now turn it up a notch. Stare at someone; better yet, look from person to person, studying them. You might get a verbal reaction on this one, from a polite "May I help you?" to an aggressive "What are you looking at?"

Ramp it up some more. Spout nonsense. Don't talk directly to anyone, just talk. Loudly. People will be jumping off the elevator at the next opportunity, even if it isn't their floor.

You are violating elevator etiquette: move to the back; face forward; don't look at anyone else; don't talk, unless it's to someone you know, and then speak in hushed tones.

Unless you have never been on an elevator in your life, you know the rules as well as I do, but consider this. When did you learn them? Who taught them to you? Only the Shadow knows for sure, but there is a science devoted to the study of such things.

It's called Proxemics and it examines how people perceive and use space, alone or in groups, particularly tight spaces, such as an elevator. Watch for the signs the next time you're on an elevator.

It may not be polite to break those unwritten rules, but it sure is fun!