How to use an elevator

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By Darren Johnson
Campus News

I notice on many of the community college campuses I visit that elevators are a major component of travel from class to class. On some campuses, it’s not even obvious where the stairs are, so most people just press a button, even if they are just going up or down one flight. That’s fine. To paraphrase Satchel Paige, why walk when you can ride? But do be aware that elevators have been around almost as long as newspapers have, and there’s a certain etiquette to using them.

You may be new to college. Maybe you’re new to using elevators, at least without your parents leading the way. Here is some advice:

  • Don’t just bull onto an elevator once the doors open. The people inside have the right to get off first. Patiently wait for them to get off safely.
  • Don’t get on an elevator going in the opposite direction. If you are going up, for example, wait for an up-elevator. Otherwise, you’re slowing down all of the people who have to get somewhere. And don’t try to press your up button when everyone’s heading down.
  • If you are going the farthest on the elevator — say the top floor — edge toward the back wall of the elevator, as you know that others are getting off before you.
  • If the door opens and you see a full elevator, either politely wave to them and let them pass, or shimmy in quickly. Be decisive, otherwise, again, you’re slowing things down.
  • If you are in the elevator and near the buttons, don’t just press your button. Ask others which floor they are going to and press their buttons, as well. If you are not near the buttons, it’s OK to ask the person near the buttons to press your button for you.
  • There is no 13th floor in most buildings — builders are superstitious.
  • Don’t press the door-close button if you see someone rushing to the elevator. In fact, maybe press door-open. Though these buttons often don’t really work — you may have to stick your arm in the door to stop it from closing. Don’t worry — elevators are programmed not to continue if there’s a body part in the egress. (Unless there’s a malfunction — then quickly pull your arm back in!)
  • Be kind to the elderly and people with disabilities. You may have to leave the elevator if there otherwise isn’t room for someone who wants to board in a wheelchair. If you are in a wheelchair, don’t be shy about asking people to give you some space.
  • Don’t eat, drink, cough openly, fart or anything else in the elevator!
  • Don’t press all the buttons as a joke.
  • Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your fellow passengers around you and have a conversation.

Enjoy the ride!

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