The Awkward Guide

In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself

The Awkward Guide To Lifts

I don’t like lifts. It’s not because I’m claustrophobic, although tight spaces don’t exactly fill me with feelings of joy and excitement. And I’m not particularly afraid that they will break down or send me plunging to an untimely demise, although I’m not entirely thrilled about the thought of standing in a box dangling over a multi-story cavern of emptiness either.

What concerns me more about lifts, though, is the fact that they almost seem to have been designed specifically to induce feelings of intense and crushing awkwardness. Actually, if it wasn’t for the fact that on occasion they help you to avoid the minor inconvenience of having to climb twenty-eight flights of stairs, I might start to suspect that creating awkwardness was the sole purpose of lifts. There may be some people who can, with effortless ease and panache, deal with spending a few minutes of tense silence pressed up against a stranger in a metal box. I, unfortunately, am not one of them. I suspect, from the fact that you’re reading this, that you probably aren’t one of them either.

So here are a few pieces of advice/hard-earned observations on the difficult matter of travelling vertically by lift. They may not be of any use to you at all, in which case we could always form a support group and take to sitting in circles in church halls, drinking squash and eating biscuits and talking about how great stairs are instead.

1. First there is the tricky “getting in” bit. There is usually a queue, or rather, a group of people standing around innocently, cunningly creating the illusion of a queue, but really biding their time until they are legitimately allowed to shove, scratch and gouge their way inside once the doors ping. If there are quite a few people who have to vacate the lift once it arrives, then time for shoving, scratching and gouging becomes worryingly limited and the stress of the situation increases exponentially.

You may even find yourself watching the doors close in front of you having totally failed to secure yourself a place inside through a shameful lack of assertiveness or otherwise primal behaviour. When this happens all you can do is wait for another lift to arrive and hope you have better luck next time.

There may be the possibility of recklessly projecting a possession or peripheral limb into the doors in the hope of forcing entry. However, this often results in embarrassment and/or injury and is generally ill-advised. Attempting to prise the doors open again in desperation is also an enterprise usually doomed to failure. Unless of course you happen to be the Hulk, in which case feeling a bit socially uncomfortable in a lift is probably the least of your worries anyway.

2. Once you’re in, positioning is of paramount importance. If you were first in then at least you are guaranteed to be able to press the button for the floor you actually want to go to. However, if you were first in then it is almost certain that your floor will be the first one you stop at. At this point, exiting the lift becomes devilishly challenging as you are now entirely penned in by your fellow passengers and will need to somehow squeeze past them all in order to get out before the doors close again and you are forced to continue unnecessarily on your lift journey.

If, on the other hand, you were last in then you have no hope of reaching the buttons and must simply pray that someone else coincidentally wants to go to your floor and has managed to press the right button.  Likewise, if you were last in then it is almost certain that your floor will be the very last one you stop at, and you are now the one penning in your fellow passengers as one-by-one they all attempt desperately to squeeze past you on their way out to fresh air and freedom.

3. Quite aside from all the awkward logistics of embarking and disembarking on your brief but largely unpleasant journey, there is the matter of actually being in the lift for the duration. Because, with wanton disregard for the “6 persons Max” sign, more people than is strictly acceptable will have squashed themselves inside a tiny metal box, and you will consequently find yourself closer than you ever wanted to be to people with whom you are not intimately acquainted.

And whoever thought that it would be a good idea to put mirrors in there? No, it does not cunningly create the illusion of more space, it simply makes you painfully aware of just how many strangers you are currently pressed up against. Yet despite the added vantage point you still can’t quite work out whose hand that is, whether it’s your own, which is fine, or someone else’s, which definitely isn’t.

All in all it seems like the stairs are a much better choice, and taking the lift is a bit of an ordeal we could all frankly do without, and not just in the event of fire.

I should make it clear that I am not advocating the stairs on any kind of health basis. Because to be honest (certainly if you’re me) the risks of tripping and doing yourself a mischief on the stairs far outweigh the potential long-term health risks of going for the more sedentary lift option. Even so, though you may have a mere half a minute to climb nine floors before your important deadline goes whizzing by, legging it up the stairs will probably still seem preferable to subjecting yourself to the whole lift experience.

Now, who’s for a digestive?



The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.


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This entry was posted on 23/09/2013 by in Transport and Travel and tagged , , , , .

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