Thursday, October 9, 2008

4 floors of awkward

so the little tv screen in the elevator was out (again) this morning. anyone who has ever had a little tv screen in their elevator at work will appreciate the focal point it provides on a daily basis and the ensuing mental and social hysteria when it (gasp!) goes out.

as an introvert, i am not given often to making chit chat with my fellow passengers. on my side i am only on the 4th floor, against me is the fact that everyone knows that the only 'outsider' company resides on the 4th floor and they are not really 'into' talking to anyone at my company.

on occasion, however, bolstered by the "i'm an executive" starbucks cup in my hand and the trendy laptop bag slung over my shoulder, sans company logo (because i am too cool to use the free one they give to everyone on their first day), i will actually make the first move and initiate some sort of generic greeting. this is rare. very rare. this is due to the fact that i have had one too many awkward elevator moments and have therefore set some ground rules for myself when confronted with anything other than a solo ride in the building elevator.

ground floor small talk run out... while waiting for the next available elevator on the ground floor, the two parties stand side by side in awkward silence after exchanging pleasantries, each secretly willing the next damn elevator to get here already.

solution: ground level wait chit chat can usually be assuaged with a quick witted 'i hate my job' worker bee type comment. other employee will usually acquiesce with a chuckle and a reply involving something about it being Monday or almost Friday. having aligned ourselves into the same peon status, we can comfortably share the elevator and even end the ride with a 'have a good day' sign off.

boisterous group tmi... the concept of inside voices and the appropriate use thereof is foreign to such groups. typically this the return leg on a round trip group visit to the smoking area. in our short time together, i am privy to personal information and step off on my floor with the newfound knowledge that 'kevin and stacy are in marriage counseling' and 'little conrad has adhd, but we are getting a second opinion'.

solution: if a group of 3 or more people are waiting for the elevator, i walk past the elevator station looking for all intents and purposes like i am decidedly walking to the bathrooms with no interest in needing a lift to my floor. this involves a u-turn after i hear them get on their elevator, and scores me a quiet (and stale smoke-free) solo ride in the next available.

slow closing doors... my co-passenger gets off the elevator at their appropriate floor and instead of the doors closing promptly and whisking me away to my floor, i am forced to watch said passenger clumsily search for and pull out their access badge and fumble with the office door handle for a good 10 seconds, as i aggressively push the 'close doors' button. the closing of the elevator doors is never without 'failed smile' from the other passenger still trying to get into the door where they've worked every day for years.

solution: unfortunately there is no solution for this problem. it's one of those 'take it as it comes' kind of situations. makes me happy the access door nearest my office is away from elevator passenger view. then i am not forced to give a failed smile of my own.

the lunch rush... poor timing on my part will land me smack dab in the middle of no less than 2-3 hungry fellow workers who have just frequented the ground floor cafeteria. the building likes to call it the cafe, but we all know if you slapped a Luby's sign on the door, no one would know the difference. (except maybe the odd shortage of 'older' patrons). overpriced meatloaf and green beans smell leaking from its styrofoam container permeates our tiny shared space and i am usually concentrating so hard on not gagging that there is no time to notice awkward moment potential.

solution: if anyone enters the elevator bearing anything resembling food of any form besides a cup of coffee, pretend i've just forgotten something and walk briskly out of the elevator and wait for the next one. this involves awareness at all times, and calls upon my acting skills (poor as they are). sometimes i am not aware enough, and plan b calls for me to hold my breath the entire ride, erstwhile checking my watch to see if i am going to break any records for 'breath holding while in an elevator'.

accidental on purpose 'door close' button push... that last minute person trying to catch a ride in your elevator as the doors close, even though there are two other perfectly available and just as fast as mine elevators in the area. without making eye contact, i hit the 'doors close' button and hope my reaction time was faster than theirs. a hand or foot into the ever decreasing opening, and the doors open up again and i force a smile as the rest of their body follows and cite their 'whew almost didn't make it' line like i understand why it was sooo important for them to catch this very exact elevator.

solution: 'hold the elevator' requests are usually followed by a split second decision to hit 'close doors' a few additional times to ensure they are indeed closing. should i fail to successfully close the doors, i employ the failsafe "sorry about that, i always accidentally hit the 'close doors' button instead of the 'open doors' button. i'm so embarrassed" paired with a charming self deprecating smile. this usually wins over the tardy occupant and we are on good terms for the rest of the ride.

the possible transvestite... on occasion there enters a woman that very strongly and strangely resembles a man. it then becomes my duty to assess as quickly as my 4 floor ride will afford me, any telltale signs of the true gender of the person standing to my left. a combination of alternating sidelong glances and squinting into the semi reflective elevator doors usually does the trick (the hands, always look at the hands... they will usually tell you the answer you seek). much worse than the awkwardness of sharing a ride with a suspected transvestite, is getting caught trying to discover the truth about the situation. awkward x 1 million!

solution: get to your office as quickly as possible and twitter than you have confirmed yet another transvestite in your building.

needless to say, the presence of a working tv screen makes elevator life so much easier on everyone involved. in 4 floors i can learn the word of the day used in a sentence, the latest box scores, and see an advert for korean airlines. all in complete silence.

technology is good.


becki said...

BAH HA HA!! I used the "it's almost Friday" line today! This very morn!

LIZZY said...

it's a classic, and a hit in almost any scenario. it's always in my back pocket. :)

Lolly said...

Makes me really glad to not have an elevator!! I used to work at the hospital and I was the one that got off, or worse, tried to get off each and every time the doors open. I worked on the 12th floor. I guess I gave a lot of people a reason to laugh. Which is a good thing in a hospital.

bullets said...

one advantage women always have over men when caught not being courteous and hitting the close door button and then the other patron getting that leg in is the fact that you have other features men do not have...i shall not name them but some are more noticeable than others

LIZZY said...

so is that where your eyes immediately go when you get into your elevator with a woman?

bullets said...

what if i see your face and imagine your heart inside of there receiving my every advance?!?!?!

bullets said...

and when you say with a women do you mean dlan or andrews?

Anonymous said...

you forgot the akward person who gets off on the wrong floor and then has to immediately get back on the elevator and face those people. "I thought this was the 3rd floor... except for that big number 2 on th wall...."

not that I've ever done that


mbriscoe said...

so funny! yet so sad :-( I am the one who genuinely likes to converse with strangers and find out all about their lives, but it seems no one really wants to talk or even make eye contact anymore!

Des said...

this has to be one of the best posts written... corporate America sucks.