Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reggie's Rules for the Considerate Management of One's Presence When Riding In Elevators

Dear Reader, I realize that it has been rather a long time since I last posted a Reggie's Rules piece.  It's not that I haven't been planning or formulating any such posts, mind you, but rather other subjects have taken the forefront of one's consciousness of late.

"I hear my cellphone ringing!  Should I
answer it, or wait until I've gotten off the elevator?"
Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

However, something so egregious happened the other evening while your sainted author was riding an elevator that it has caused him to reconsider his temerity on such matters, and thus resume this series, post-haste.  I cannot remain a stoic silence any longer!  Rules are rules, Dear Reader, and must not only be understood, but also obeyed!

What? you might ask—is there anyone left on the planet who does not understand the rudiments of riding elevators?  How hard can it be?  Surely this cannot be the case, Reggie, as Mr. Otis perfected said vehicle of efficient vertical travel more than 150 years ago!

"No more passengers!  Step to the rear please!"
Source: LIFE Images

Well, one would have hoped the Young Miss who I had the misfortune of sharing an elevator with several evenings ago in the building where I live would have known better than to loudly carry on a tiresome personal conversation on her cellphone for all (notably Reggie) to unwillingly (and begrudgingly) overhear.  Not only was she complainingly blabbing into her cellphone while a group of us assembled to wait for an elevator in the building's lobby, but our Young Miss carried on her tedious conversation while entering the elevator and throughout the journey (but at a higher decibel rate so the person on the other end of the line could hear her better), and continued her honking without pausing for so much as a breath of air upon exiting the elevator and walking down the hall to her apartment.  Those of us who remained on the elevator after her (blessed) departure looked at each other with a mixture of relief and irritation once the doors closed, and agreed that our Young Miss was a thoughtless cretin, indeed.  My only consolation for her rude behavior, Dear Reader, is that it was the inspiration for this edition of Reggie's Rules, for which I owe said annoying cellphone blatherer a debt of gratitude (and a sharp rebuke, I might add, should I ever be subjected to her rude behavior again).

And with that I now share Reggie's Rules for the Considerate Management of One's Presence When Riding in Elevators:

1. When waiting for an elevator, stand to the side so those exiting it may do so unimpeded

It is inconsiderate to block their path by standing in front of the doors, which requires those exiting to "excuse me" their way around you.

Courteous elevator lobby behavior is to be encouraged and emulated
source: LIFE Images

2. When waiting for an elevator, allow those wishing to exit the elevator to do so first before barging in

It is basic good manners to allow them to do so, and eases the flow of traffic.

3. When entering a crowded elevator, say "excuse me" when seeking to find a space

Do not shove your way in, it is not a subway car at rush hour.

"Sorry, Pal, no more room here.  Would ya
 mind waitin' fer the next one, please!"
Image courtesy of United Artists

4. When seeking to enter a crowded elevator, use common sense and judgement in determining whether there is sufficient space to enter it.  Wait for the next one if there isn't

Again, elevators are not subway cars.  Another will come along soon enough.

5. While it is considered polite under certain circumstances to allow ladies to first enter and exit elevators, it is technically not a requirement to do so  

Elevators are akin to stairs and escalators in this consideration—efficiency of movement trumps precedence of the sexes, particularly during busy times of day such as morning and evening rushes, or during lunchtime.  When a crowd of men and women are waiting for an elevator, it is in the best interest of all concerned to resort to a first-come-first-served precedence in order to aide the efficient movement of people on and off the elevator.  On the other hand, if a single man or pair of men and a solitary woman are waiting for an elevator, it is common courtesy for the man/men to allow the lady to enter and exit the elevator first.  Use judgement in such matters.

6. When entering or exiting an elevator in an apartment building, one should always politely acknowledge the other people on the elevator with a simple "good morning" or "good evening"

Particularly if they live in the same building as you do.  Have some manners, please!

"Which way is up, baby?"
Image courtesy of United Artists

7. When entering or exiting an elevator in an office building or store, it is not necessary to verbally acknowledge the other people on the elevator, unless one already knows them or the elevator is being run by an elevator operator (a great rarity these days, but it still happens in such places as the flagship store of Tiffany & Company in New York)

When riding elevators in such buildings one should only feel compelled to acknowledge fellow riders one already happens to know (such as a fellow employee or acquaintance), or the elevator operator, since one is expected to inform said operator of the desired floor.  While it is not improper to acknowledge other riders in a public elevator, Dear Reader (particularly if one has made eye contact upon entering said elevator), it is not a requirement to do so.  Again, use judgement in such matters.

8. Prior to entering an elevator, should you be speaking to someone on a cellphone, end the call with a simple "I'll call you back later, I'm getting on an elevator"

Do not keep up your cellphone conversation while riding an elevator.  It is rude and thoughtless to those who are trapped listening to you (and this applies to you, too, Young Miss!).

"Help! Get me out of here!  She won't stop talking on her cellphone!"
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

9. Should your cellphone ring when you are preparing to enter an elevator or are riding upon one, either do not answer it, or tell the caller that you will ring them back afterwards

For the same reason as noted in 8, above.

10. When riding a crowded elevator with a loved one, spouse, or friend, do not carry on a personal conversation, but rather wait to resume it once you've exited the elevator

Similar to cell phone conversations, the other passengers on the elevator are not deaf.  You are not riding in a cone of silence!

11. When riding an elevator while listening to music on headphones or ear plugs, do not have the volume turned up to such a high level that others riding in the elevator are forced to listen to the music as well

For the same reasons as in rules 8, 9, and 10.

This woman knows that it is best to wait to speak on
one's telephone until after one has completed one's elevator journey
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

12. When riding an elevator with a pet dog (or child for that matter) do not allow it to lunge at the other riders in the car

It can alarm them.  Restrain your dog (or child) for the duration of the ride, please.

And last (but certainly not least):

13. When riding an elevator, one should do one's utmost not to perfume the air with one's flatulent gases, a practice vulgarly (but aptly) known as "crop dusting"

While it may be a relief (and even a source of amusement) for the perpetrator, it is inconsiderate to those who have the misfortune to involuntarily share in such aroma.

And there you have it, Dear Reader, Reggie's Rules for the Considerate Management of One's Presence When Riding in Elevators.

Tell me, do you have any good elevator stories?


  1. It is so interesting Reggie that some people do not seem to have a clue as to the common courtesies that apply in public situations.

    Art by Karena

  2. These rules seem so obvious but I've become so used to people's bad behavior (unfortunately) that I was quite surprised to enter the elevator and have my upstairs neighbor apologize profusely for having her cellphone on speaker, that she NEVER uses her phone on an elevator but she was on an unexpected group business call and had be ready to join in when necessary and get to the office at the same time.

    Perhaps you could do a post on proper deportment at the theatre where it seems anything goes these days.

    1. Hello Amy,
      Thank you for your comment. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and an appropriate apology goes a long way to smoothing out any bumps that one encounters in such situations as you describe. While I have not done a "Reggie's Rules" about proper behavior when in a theater, I did a post in January 2010 on a related theme that I think you may enjoy:

      Thanks, Reggie

  3. Das a lotta rules for an elevator ride.

    1. Yes, indeed it is, Maxie. The reason there are so many on this list is that Reggie has witnessed infractions of each of them by people who either don't know any better, or should. But, then, you knew that didn't you? RD

  4. I don't have the occasion to ride in elevators often but I can certainly sympathize about the cellphone conversation. It seems that a large number of otherwise respectable looking people, have no idea of or do not care about the captive audiences that must listen to the intimate details of their lives via cellphone conversations.
    I find it especially rude when the person paying a cashier does not have the courtesy to acknowledge the cashier because they are chatting on their phone.

    1. Hello Kerry,
      I agree the use of cellphones has gotten completely out of control. What irks me so about it is, as you point out, those (in many but not all cases) who are on their cellphones in public are often so wrapped up in their little worlds and head spaces that they entirely ignore those around them, sometimes to the point of the extreme rudeness you describe. Thanks, Reggie

  5. I was always told a Gentleman enters an elevator first as it is considered a moving vehicle (just as one enters a taxi first) to assist the ladies into the elevator car- Also, a little arcane- A Gentleman never removes his hat in an elevator- he tips his hat or touches the brim to acknowledge a lady, but removing one's hat would mean holding it in front of one thereby taking up valuable room-

    1. Hello Thomas,
      Thank you for your comment, and the information in it that you share. I was not aware of the "men first" elevator guidance, but I am well aware of the "man first" into the taxi rule, which is one that I cite in a post I wrote in May 2011:

      As to the tipping of the hat rule, I thank you for it, as it makes perfect sense. It is unfortunate that if men wear hats at all today they are usually baseball (or Gimmie) caps and not the brimmed ones of yore. Well, with the exception of Reggie that is, who still does frm time to time.

      Thanks, Reggie

  6. One would hope that these would go without saying, but unfortunately it doesn't!

  7. Dearest Reggie,

    I can't tell you how timely your latest post resonates with me. I am so tired of entering an elevator (and here, I refer to those at the office), and constantly over hearing people's conference calls. Yes, conference calls, in an elevator! Are people so overly scheduled nowadays that they feel it appropriate to conduct business in an elevator? Utter madness!

    I recall, now several years ago, the first time I over heard somebody seemingly yapping to themselves in an elevator, again at the office. At first, I mistakenly thought the person was talking to me, being as I was the only other person in the elevator. "Pardon me, could you repeat that?" I said. It turned out the yapper was having a discussion with the aid of a small ear device with no visible(at least to me) cellphone.

    Thank you for your post today. I hope your readers can print it off and possibly paste it to the wall of their elevator, where it may do some good there.

    1. Hello LizaE,
      Yes, the carrying on of business conversations on cellphones in elevators (whether on cellphone or among the riders) is not acceptable. Not only that, but it is highly improper, as the subject matter of such calls/conversations is often confidential and not for public consumption. Bad judgement all around.

      Now to your second point, Reggie is (also) not a fan of such ear-devices as you describe. He thinks that people who walk around talking on them (or on little microphones, too) look (and sound) like lunatics talking to themselves.

      Thanks, Reggie

  8. Reggie this is one of your best ever! I've been thinking about how people don't seem to have any sense when it comes to these matters. Last weekend we stayed at an old Fairmont Hotel in Toronto and every elevator ride was unpleasant with people pushing in before we could exit into the lobby. I was so fed up by the end of the weekend!
    I hope Young Miss reads your blog.

    1. Thanks DaniBP! Reggie writes his Rules in the fleeting hope that but one or two persons will read them and potentially find them helpful. It sounds like your fellow elevator riders last weekend would benefit from finding there way here. Thanks, Reggie

  9. Great rules...
    As for # 11...violators are punishing themselves for if they have the volume up to the point where one can hear it..they are doing significant damage to their ears/hearing.

    1. Thank you AT -- it does seem obvious, doesn't it? But then so many of these (and other) rules do too, at least to those of us who pause to consider such things. Thanks, Reggie

  10. Now if only the people who need to see this would see it ...

    1. Hello Stephanie,
      Yes, there is an element of "preaching to the choir" in my little scribbles I admit... Thanks, Reggie

  11. Only this morning I was in a small suburban office building of three floors. I was on the way up to floor 3 with my high school freshman son...on the way to his orthodontist. We sttod waiting for the elevator alone when two ladies in their 40s walked up to wait with us.

    When the elevator came, to my great pride (I have beaten him well) my son stood aside and indicated the ladies should board first. When we arrived on the third floor, again, without a twitch, he and I both indicated the ladies should exit first.

    Why do I tell this simple story (other than being proud of the manners of my 15 year old)? Because at both the entry and the exit, the ladies were visibly surprised that we didn't force our way on/off the elevator. We have clearly lost grace and elegance in much of our society....


    1. Hello Minkie! Thanks for your comment and this delightful story. Knowing you as I do I am not at all surprised that you have taught (or as you say "beaten") your son well, and that he is growing into a well-mannered young man. On behalf of those who will come into contact with him as he continues to mature, I thank you for a job well done! Reggie

  12. Hello Reggie, These rules work as well for any small enclosed space, such as a vestibule, subway or bus. One addendum would be that after alighting from an elevator, do not stand immobile in front of it while deciding where to go, thus blocking people behind you (this is especially true for escalators).

    A safety rule I heard once is that on uncrowded elevators, stay close to the doors and buttons, so in case of an attack, you can press all the buttons and alarms.
    --Road to Parnassus
    p.s. Do New York children really lunge at people in elevators?

  13. I used to work in the Pan Am building where Mitsubishi or some other Japanese company had their offices a few floors below us. If the elevator stopped on their floor after 5 pm as we were all rushing to catch trains, you could hear a collective groan before the doors opened. OMG all the bowing back and forth as they were saying their goodbyes would keep that elevator door open until some exasperated soul (usually a trader)would yell, Enough, close that damn door! Talk about embarrassing and exasperating.

  14. In the 1980s I was once stuck in an elevator in a Macy's, for over an hour, with four shoppers with limited but tolerable manners, but who had just come from a cosmetic counter where they had liberally sampled the perfumes. To this day I cannot bear the smell of "Giorgio!" or any other strong "designer" fragrance, and will promptly turn and exit any elevator occupied by anyone who has overindulged in their use.

    btw I love that still from "Lady in a Cage" oh my! what a horrid horrid movie that was. One got the sense they had to drug poor Miss de Havilland and stick her in that cage just to get her to participate in such an awful film.

  15. so few people have common courtesies nowadays, agree especially about standing aside and letting others out before barging in.
    However I see nothing wrong in discretely answering a cell phone and talking for a few minutes until one is out.

  16. Bravo. I do have a question: has anyone noticed that some members of the younger (under 35) generation seem to take offense or don't understand "excuse me"? I find I have to say "Sorry" or "Pardon" to them. They either don't know what I mean or think I'm being sarcastic or snotty. Maybe it's a regional thing (I'm in New York but they seem to be from elsewhere).

  17. What great advice Reggie, thanks for sharing!!!!! (yes, I am using the sarcasm font today.)

    BTW, judging by the tone of your blog, I get the impression that you believe your shit doesn't stink and your farts smell like roses.

  18. Reggie, from seeing the title of the post, I was hoping that you would include at least one image from the so-bad-it's-fun film 'Lady In A Cage"! Thank you for not disappointing.

    1. I saw this film recently on late night TV, it has quite an ending !

  19. Love your article. My pet peeve is when people are impatient,are waiting for the elevator and continuously bang the up or down button. Banging those buttons is not going to make the elevator open any faster.

  20. As I believe I said before, Reggie, I always learn something new when reading your blog. Item 13 is a real hoot. Since I'm retired and no longer have to shoot up to the 43rd Floor, crop dusting is a new one on me. I initially thought your lead in was going to be about standing next to passengers who have overdone their morning poofs of perfume, in which case less is best, whether in the elevator or the office. Keep up the good work!

  21. Have you already gone over the cell rules for restaurants and shops??
    I own an antiques/design store and politely ask customers not to use their cellphones in the space.

  22. Let me see. Oh, one of the worst things is when people get into an elevator facing the back of it and stare at you! Talk about one's personal space being invaded.


  23. An interesting post Reggie, and how I do agree with you. Rule number four is the most regularly broken in my book. Also, why do people rudely barge and cram their way in, only to exit in an orderly manner?

  24. Ditto to all said here. And I might add one: when riding with children, do not allow the child to push multiple floor buttons for his or her amusement, requiring riders to stop at every floor along the route.

  25. Reggie, I couldn't agree more with your rules.
    I would add one: unless you are getting off very soon, move toward the back of the elevator so others can get on easily.

  26. Thank you for writing this piece. All of the photographs make me miss the old bird cage elevators...and the operators. I also had a visual of Katherine Hepburn as "Aunt Violet" in "Suddenly, Last Summer."

  27. Dear Reggie

    that was a classic i love it !!! ha ha

    we have been following you from Madrid Spain
    and find your blog most amusing this last entry is so funny
    is very reassuring to find yet more bitter queens out there !!!!

    we will take over the world !!!! keep on the good work !

  28. Many of those rules should also apply to travelling on public transport.

    Why don't people cover their mouths when they yawn anymore? of my pet hates

  29. Reggie I do love your "rules" to life! I smiled so much reading this post. You could not be more correct dahhling.. this modern world has lost it's elegant luster!

  30. I was just re-reading this post with a friend when she reminded me of the time her daughter was having a terrible time getting her toddler to behave in the elevator at work- he became very quiet ,she thought the worst was over when he announced in a loud voice "My Mommy doesn't have a penis"- since it was in a hospital and the elevator was full of doctors this news came as no surprise

  31. So, what you're really saying here is 'don't carry on conversations in public on a cell-phone, and treat one's fellow travellers through life with courtesy? Well, yeah...

    As to good elevator stories, sorry, I have one, but it isn't for a family blog, and besides, a gentleman never tells...

  32. Soon there will be signage "A no cell phone territory." I do think that it is the cell phone that has contributed to the rise of vulgarity. Sad to think that one feels the need to share personal conversations in the confines of public spaces.

  33. I'm all for gender equality, but it makes me so happy when men let me enter the elevator first. I feel so ladylike, and it makes me feel that the world is a civilized place. I'm saddened when young men (I'm 33, and don't think I fall into the "young" category anymore), walk in first without acknowledging me.

  34. I enjoyed this post very much and look forward to more Reggie's Rules. As a member of the choir you are preaching to, my sincere thanks for including those of who have not yet given up another sign of hope!

  35. Fun elevator story:

    My cousin was waiting for the elevator at his work. When one arrived it was pretty full, but another cousin was on it who said, "Oh Bill, come on, on, we can make room!" To which Bill responded, "Not with you!" And the doors closed. Poor cousin Matt had to continue his ride with everyone wondering what in the world he had done that was so bad that Bill wouldn't join him.

    Hahaha that story cracks me up and I wish I had an opportunity to play that trick on a friend or relation.

  36. I really hope Young Miss reads this post one day and recognizes herself. I've grown so tired of this kind of rude behavior in public that I never leave the house without ear plugs.

    You're right about the rarity of elevator operators. Martin and I were surprised to see one in NYC in Jan riding the elevator up to the Mood fabrics floor, in the garment district. He was a talkative fellow :).

  37. Reggie, I'm glad you posted this. Somehow in modern life, people seem to have decided that not necessarily needing to verbally acknowledge other passengers means that you should also pretend they don't exist, to the point of all sorts of unpleasant behavior.

    On that note, I'm particularly glad you noted that if you live in the same building, a simple hello isn't be out of place. I love city-dwellers, especially New Yorkers, but sometimes that enforced anonymity does seem to get a bit much.


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