There so many rules in life, have you noticed? Constantly we are confronted with little etiquette routines we must perform to stay within the confines of our society. And quite frankly, I love it. You know what I love even more than following everyday situational etiquette? Judging those who do it wrong.
I remember my father once relaying a newspaper article in which different regions of the United States have different unspoken rules about how you handle riding an elevator with perfect strangers. In the South, everyone's chatty. Here, in civilization, we make eye contact and smile but would never deign to speak. And in New York, everyone just stares straight ahead.
Perhaps today, I should have gone to a lady doctor in the South, because I was so nervous about that dreadful examination, I couldn't shut up.
My insurance is Kaiser, where all of the departments are listed on the elevator by floor. Upon entering, I pushed 5th Floor which, according to the listing, is gynecology. When my fellow riders pushed Floors 3, 4, 6 and 7, obviously elevator etiquette would state that I should subtly glace at the listing so as to see what's wrong with them. The woman next to me wasn't so polite, pushing her 3rd Floor button before everyone else had boarded, causing the door to close in on some elderly man in a cast. He, of course, was attended by every one of his 54 children who went ballistic that this mechanical door might close and crash them to death before our very eyes.
Once we were all in the elevator and I'd determined what was wrong with everyone, I caught the woman next to me staring. So I stared back and smiled.
Quickly, she whipped her head around and stared straight ahead. The foot family were embroiled in a huge argument about, what else, the elevator door and it was all I could not to politely ask if this was their first time in a moving box. A final member of our party stood opposite from me (in my standard "I'll push the buttons, thank you" location) and remained on her cell phone for the entire time discussing her medical problem, which I did not see listed in the directory of floors.
What did these people do wrong according to my personal and psychotic Elevator Emily Post rules? Allow me to count the ways:
1. Whomever boards first holds their arm across a door until everyone else is on.
2. Once aboard, press your floor or ask someone to do it for you. I love being the elevator operator and am delighted to help out. Honestly. It makes me feel involved.
3. Make eye contact and offer a toothless smile to everyone around you.
4. If you're with someone you know, keep conversations to a minimum and in a hushed tone. Seriously. I know you and your obnoxious posse might disagree, but it's rude and makes me feel lonely. These are my rules, after all.
5. No cell phones. There's a reason service is bad in there. It's so you won't talk.
6. But the greatest crime of all, a crime I witnessed today, is the obliviousness when the doors open on your floor. This crime is akin to the atrocity of a waiter bringing precariously balanced food to a table and saying, "Who had the ahi?" to no response. I hate that. Hello? We're on the 4th Floor. 10 seconds have passed since you pressed a button with the number 4 on it and the doors opened to reveal the 4th Floor. And yet, no one emerges until the doors begin to close and then, "Oh, wait! What floor is this!?!?!" The doors get pulled open, idiot exits, the doors stay open for an eternity because someone COULD GET CRUSHED and then we're finally allowed to go on with our lives.
Anyway, I made it through the appointment with only minor calamity as they don't provide gowns, per se, but separates. There was a paper "blouse" with a piece of tape and then a paper sarong. And of course, there's a mirror in there so I had to check out my paper outfit once it was on and adjust the draping.
When I was done, my doctor congratulated me on surviving yet another terrifying visit and as she walked me out, offered, "The elevator is down the hall to the left."
Unnecessary. I'm taking the stairs...