Elevators are awkward. The getting on and getting off, the standing in close proximity to strangers, the too-strong-perfume peoples and the random ringtones and text beepies emanating from people’s pockets – or hands. And all of this wouldn’t even be that bad except for the inherent awkward silence that befalls all elevators.
Now, I’m all for a good awkward silence. I was telling my students the other day about how part of what makes me an effective teacher is that when I ask a question, I’m not made at all uncomfortable by the silence that (usually) follows and will patiently wait until someone answers (you have to allow for a little time for students to gear up and really think about the question). So, I guess what bothers me about the elevator awkward silence is that I so badly want to talk to the other elevator occupants.
This might mean I’m an annoying person who can never keep my mouth shut. But, let’s think about this. The doors close and for a few moments, I and maybe two to five other people, share an experience together. Is it a particularly moving experience (wah wah), not technically. Is it traumatic or dramatic? Since I’ve never been in a falling elevator (one of my biggest fears everrr besides spiders and the dark..), no. Yet, I feel this impulse that for some reason these people were brought to this elevator at the same time as me, maybe for a reason? Okay, call me a hippie. Maybe I just really don’t like the silence of it all and am sad that people would rather be reading their Facebooks on their smart phones in the elevator than interacting with other real life humans. Or maybe part of me has an obsession with the whole elevator thing because of the opening of Haruki Murakami’s Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World. Because of this book, I still want to write a story that deals with time travel occurring (unbeknownst to the occupants) in an elevator. Maybe that’s why I hate the silence – I’m upset that something cool like time-travel isn’t happening while I ride the elevator and when the doors open I’m not faced with ninjas to battle (yup, TMNT circa 1990) so I try to make up for that with a desire to at least talk to the people in the elevator with me. (And that way, if there are ninjas to battle when the doors open, I at least know who’s on my team).
I feel like this whole post has maybe gotten away from me, and I wish I had some awesome little anecdote about a truly awkward situation in an elevator, but I don't, so I’m going to try and bring it back some other way. What it all comes down to (I guess) is that elevators are pretty cool but really awkward, yet have the potential for some cool magical realism.