By Lisa Sugarman
I have to be honest, it drives me absolutely insane when my kids are right about a something we’re debating—especially when they’re both unified against me. And especially when I’m convinced they’re both completely mistaken. Not because I have a problem being proven wrong, but simply because they never let me live it down and that’s just annoying. (Kids can be brutal.)
But, unfortunately for me, it seems that my girls were one hundred percent spot on last weekend when they scolded me for carrying on a conversation with them in the elevator at my daughter’s dorm. Because, unbeknownst to me, there’s an entire world of elevator etiquette out there that states, very clearly, that there’s no talking allowed in elevators. And the rules of engagement are very clearly defined. Who knew?
So the three of us were chatting as we walked into the elevator in the lobby of her building, me probably yammering away about how cute the college boys are these days, and them expressing their disgust over their embarrassing mother. But the second we crossed the threshold into the elevator and meshed in with the other people in the car, both girls went radio silent. Like total shutdown.
Now normally their sudden silence wouldn’tve stuck out to me, but it was only after I kept talking and both of them shot me the evil eye that I knew something was up. Me being me, though, I just ignored them and kept talking, assuming, of course, that it was just my girls asserting they know everything. Again.
Come to find out that I got the nasty look because, evidently, you’re really not supposed to talk in elevators. Like it’s actually a thing.
I mean, really? Since when? And says who? Needless to say, I was horrified and immediately lodged a protest. (In the elevator, of course.) I couldn’t believe that what they were suggesting was actually true. That there’s a whole population out there who subscribe to the “unwritten rules of elevator behavior.”
It just seems insane to me that we’re expected to cease all communication and stare at the floor just because we’re riding in a little metal box with a bunch of strangers. I just don’t get it. I can’t understand the thinking behind not interacting with people simply because there are some people we don’t know standing next to us. But that’s just me.
See, the fact is, nine times out of ten my girls dispute the stuff I say just for the sake of disputing me. So I honestly figured this argument was like most of our others and based exclusively on what I like to call generational perception. In other words, my girls think what they think because they just assume that their entire generation believes it, whether it’s true or not.
So what, then, did I feel compelled to do? Prove them wrong, of course. And to do that, I knew I had to research whether or not this elevator silence thing was just an urban legend or if it was legit. What I didn’t count on, was finding out that the myth was not a myth at all, but rather a very sophisticated set of rules designed to discourage all communication in elevators. I never saw that coming.
All it took was a simple Google search to lead me to roughly 1,060,000 results on elevator behavior; the first of which was an interesting Today.com article that listed the finer points of elevator etiquette in great detail. Gee, thanks, Internet, for blowing my whole argument that no such rules exist.
And according to The Unwritten Rules of Elevator Etiquette, there really is a specific code of conduct that we’re all supposed to follow when riding elevators. Needless to say, I was absolutely shocked. Although what I found even more stunning was that I had absolutely no knowledge that such a thing even existed.
Apparently, after entering an elevator, we’re supposed to stand as close to a wall or one of the corners as possible in order to reduce any spacial invasion to our co-riders. And, most importantly, we’re expected to decrease eye contact and lower the tone and pitch of our voice to barely a whisper.
As far as my daughters are concerned, I’m to think of an elevator like a mini library and observe the same rules. But as far as I’m concerned, they, and the rest of the elevator etiquette crowd have lost their ever-lovin’ minds. I mean, strangers shouldn’t expect to be involved in another stranger’s conversation. It’s that simple.
So until there’s an actual law passed that bans elevator talk altogether, I’m going to continue to be the maverick who talks when the doors close. And I’m not apologizing for it. Because I don’t think it’s fair to have to wait until National Talk in the Elevator Day on the last Friday in June to be able to talk freely. (Oh yeah, that’s a real thing too.)
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.