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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Elevator etiquette has its ups and downs

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Remember the old urban legend elevator story? Most variations of that old tale always involve the latest muscular macho man de jour.

The last time I heard it I think it was George Foreman playing the part of Large Man in the Elevator (insert favorite muscle-bound athletic type here) with huge dog (insert breed of choice here).

The set-up goes like this: Elevator door opens and in steps a nicely dressed woman a bit nervous about being alone in the elevator with a big man and his big dog.

As the elevator door closes, the big guy (think The Rock or Vin Diesel) barks the order: "Sit!"

But it's not the big dog that instantly obeys. It's the woman who quickly and obediently sits in this unsubstantiated story.

It may be an unproven urban legend, but the story plays to our fears and emotions and the ups and downs of elevator etiquette. And I rode that crazy car over the weekend in Chicago.

It's not that I frequent many elevators. After all, despite the multi-storied building, the Banner Graphic has no elevator, only the shaft (which can be taken literally and figuratively by those of us resigned to climbing the stairs every morning, noon and night).

Sure there's the old elevator in the courthouse lobby, but I'm not sure when I was last brave enough to ride that rickety thing. Maybe back when Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke were Indiana's senators and Judge Hamilton rode the Putnam Circuit Court bench.

As far as elevator etiquette goes, I know you're supposed to step aside and let people off before you get on. And never reach across to push the button for your floor, ask someone standing there to do it. And that eating fast food or anything else that stinks up the elevator is about as socially unacceptable as smoking or burping.

Space speaks, they say. Maybe it was that Otis guy who first said it. It's a confined space, perfect for close talkers but not those who want more than their fair share of personal space.

Yet Sunday morning in Chicago, none of that really mattered. We were simply trying to get back up to our room on the 26th floor. We dutifully waited for everyone to drag his or her bags off the elevator before wedging ourselves inside. Yet when we pressed button 26 or 28 for our accomplices' floor, the elevator rejected the notion and left us in the lobby. With another elevator opening up across the hall, we dashed over there and pressed 26 and 28 again. Again nothing.

Heavens to Ashton Kutcher, could we be getting punked?

After all, we did see TNT's NBA broadcasting crew in the lobby and at the bar. And earlier someone spotted an older woman they were just certain played Ray's mother in "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Then there was the guy who entered our elevator and quickly did a 180, spinning around to stare at the floor in front of him without uttering a word or looking in anyone's direction. I had him pegged for a Russian spy, which drew chuckles from our fellow riders when I said it aloud upon his departure.

Seems that the finicky elevator would only allow us up when someone from a floor above punched the down button and sent the car to the lobby. Kind of has a heavenly ring to it, doesn't it?

Regardless, our prayers were answered when someone showed up with a dachshund in her arms and an elevator key in her hand.

Not sure where the etiquette fits in there. But if she had ordered that silly little wiener dog to sit, I'd have been right down there on the floor with him.

Elevator etiquette, you know ...