Monthly Archive: July 2000

Fear of a Silent Elevator

Have you ever noticed the silence that fills an elevator when more than one stranger boards together? A nervous tension is evident in the air, and it’s like a vow of silence would be breached if someone were to open his mouth for a simple, “hi”. Why is this? In most cases, if you pass someone on the street, a simple nod, or a “hey, what’s up?” is usually in order. So why does this not carry over into a crowded elevator? It is beyond me. It seems the strangers around you would rather not even look directly at you. Everyone plays the quiet game, and stands as still as possible, staring at his shoes. An occasional glance at the floor indicator is the only sign of life among these passengers.

I have to ride the elevators to the fifth floor every day on my way to my office. As a rule of good measure, I generally try to start up some weird ass off-the-wall conversation, just to break some ice, as well as to observe people’s reactions. You would be amazed at how shy these people are. They treat everything you say like a yes or no question. I have been known to bring up such conversations as “Did you hear about the bicyclist on the freeway this morning?” or “What ever happened to that baby that was trapped in the elevator last week?” It really doesn’t matter what I ask. I sometimes ask the same question for a week. And since I never forget a face, I can tell if I have used it on them before.

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