This Is The Correct Way To Behave In An Elevator

This Is The Correct Way To Behave In An Elevator

Elevator rides can be a fraught experience, what with all the murky etiquette around button-pushing, door-holding and chit-chatting, all mixed in with a healthy dose of claustrophobia.

Screenshot: AMC (Netflix)

No more: One deliciously particular Seattle landlord has taken it upon themselves to outline exactly how one should comport themselves in an elevator. Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger posted a photo of the notice, which had recently been put up in one of their writer’s apartment buildings (click through to their site for the poster, which is very much worth reading in full). The landlord’s extremely sensible directives include:

  • “Stand to the right.” As it is on footpaths and escalators, so it should be in elevators. Simple enough. However in Australia, it’s the other way around – Australians stand on the left.
  • “Hold the door if it’s not an inconvenience.” You might not always want to, but it’s the polite thing to do.
  • “Be the button pusher.” If you’re the one nearest to the buttons in a crowded elevator, volunteer to push whatever buttons people need pushed. Of course.
  • “Move to the back.” Self-explanatory.
  • “Consider taking the stairs.” Why tie up the elevator for other people when you’re able-bodied, not carrying anything heavy, and only headed to the second floor?

And then there’s the following extremely important note on body odours (TL;DR: No farting):

Good hygiene should be practiced every day, but especially if you are taking elevators on a regular basis. The small, confined spaces can draw attention to any body odor. Try not to pass gas or belch while riding in the elevator. If you do, excuse yourself. Don’t bring extremely smelly food onto the elevator. Instead, bring your food in containers. Never eat in an elevator. Never apply perfume or lotion. What smells normal to you may make someone else very sick.

A note on making polite small talk is also included in the flier, but is rather specific to the dynamics of a small-ish apartment building, so for our purposes we’re excluding it. The need for small talk is strictly case by case! When in doubt, smile and nod politely and stay silent as the grave.

The Stranger roasted the notice as being quintessentially “Seattle”, the idea being that Seattleites are notoriously uptight and concerned with avoiding offence to the point of absurd preoccupation. That may be true (it is definitely true). But the advice laid out in this flyer also happens to be an impeccable, accurate behavioural guide for anyone about to set foot in an elevator, finicky regional cultural norms be damned.

To review: Be friendly but not too friendly, move to the left and to the back to create space for other elevator occupants, hold the door to let other people in, push buttons for other riders as necessary, and wait until exiting to unleash your bodily gases. Is any of that so much to ask?

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