Elevated Silence

ElevatorWe’ve all been there. You’re stoked, you’re talking, you’re laughing, you’re waiting.

Then, “Ding!” The metal doors slide open and you step into the rectangular room.

Suddenly, it’s as if you are in a hostile foreign land. Nobody’s OK with making eye contact; nobody wants to speak. Everyone picks a spot on the floor, wall, or ceiling, and studies it, furiously.

What is it about an elevator that immediately takes people from the social butterfly to the cocooned introvert? Why are people afraid to make eye contact and build love?

Why is the social interaction of the metal box limited to a gruff, “Floor?” “Three,” “OK,” “Thanks.”

(Granted, I understand this was LA, but you know this happens EVERYWHERE!!! In this one, nobody even asked the floor!!!)

I’d forgotten about this social stigma, having not been in an elevator for months and months before this weekend.  Tiara and I decided that we wanted to go up to the top of the Erwin Hotel in Venice Beach to have a few drinks and watch the sunset before having dinner. It’s only seven flights of stairs, technically six, since the ground floor is level one, but the doors of the elevator opened as we walked into the lobby, and in natural lemming form, we squeezed into the box with four others.

(In our defense, we took the stairs back down).

The weirdness began as soon as the doors closed. Nobody spoke a single word. Grinning, I looked squarely at each of the four other people, who took great care to avoid my gaze like the knotted pink curls spilling from my visor were angry writhing snakes. I then made eye contact with Tiara and couldn’t help it.

I broke the silence with a burst of uproarious laughter.

The girls next to me were dressed to the nines. They had make up on, and designer clothes. Their men had enough gel in their hair to make my 13-year-old over made-up self seem like a dirty hippy, and they all seemed to be pressed as far back against the wall as they possibly could.

The doors opened, and we spilled out onto the landing.

I couldn’t stifle my giggles. It tickled me pink (no pun intended) that as soon as the doors opened, it was as if everyone had found their voices. The chatter began, and the silent vacuum was filled with voices.

The funny thing to me was that we were heading to a bar! I mean, really…We were heading to a place geared at being social, right?

I just wanted to share that story. There’s no real lesson behind it. Just an observation.

I guess my challenge to you is this: Next time you’re in an elevator, say hello, make eye contact, and SMILE at someone you don’t know!

Strangers are all friends we simply haven’t met yet!

Either that or take the stairs.

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4 Responses to Elevated Silence

  1. Joe July 18, 2012 at 3:24 AM #

    I think maybe being stuck in a close, confined space with a woman grinning madly for no apparent reason could contribute to the awkwardness. Kind of like being in the wild…no eye contact, no sudden movements…. 😀

    • Hurricane Rita July 20, 2012 at 4:04 PM #

      HAHAHAHA! I could see that….Especially if she had pink hair! 😀

  2. Don Poling July 18, 2012 at 2:49 PM #

    There’s two elevators in Haines that I know of; the one to the Public Health Office over the DMV and the one that comes into port with the Alaska Marine Highway ferries. People do get chatty in those elevators, but maybe it’s because we know each other or because we have to maneuver luggage around each other!

    • Hurricane Rita July 20, 2012 at 4:05 PM #

      HA! Teenie Tiny elevators and friendly Alaskans who are used to tourists! 😀

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