Escalating elevator tension

By Amanda Eakin

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You are waiting for the elevator to go up to your room. Not a soul lingers nearby, leaving you to your fleeting thoughts as you continue to wait.

The annoying bleeps of the elevator drag you out of your sleep-deprived trance. As the doors part, you shuffle in absentmindedly, pressing your floor number. The doors slowly, slowly slide closed.

Suddenly, someone else slaps a hand on the inside of the door.

“Hold the elevator!” she gasps, even though the wretched machine won’t move an inch if it senses a limb within a two-mile radius.

You step back to allow room and nod, pretending you would have waited for her if she was any farther away or didn’t have her fingers wedged between closing doors.

Finally the doors seal shut, like the lid to a tomb encasing its victims.

A heavy silence falls over you and your still-gasping friend, though she is trying desperately not to sound winded. Suddenly, in the small confines of the elevator, every shred of sound magnifies to a cacophony of explosions.

The girl, who has now whipped out her cell phone to alleviate the awkwardness, begins texting rapidly. Each button pressed sounds like a bomb going off.

You shift your weight uncomfortably, cringing as your shoe squeaks against the floor. Were your shoes always that loud?

Vaguely, in the back of your mind, you hear the Jeopardy theme song marking the seconds stretching into forever.

It isn’t until the elevator reaches the girl’s floor and she spills out that you realize you were holding your breath.

Inexplicably, the behaviors you were so conscious of moments ago slip to the back of your mind, and you feel as if a cement-filled compress has been taken off your shoulders. The awkwardness of being enclosed with a stranger thankfully disappears; at least until next time.

This scenario, pathetically enough, isn’t that much of an exaggeration. There’s something about being in an elevator that makes an encounter with a stranger far more painful than it has to be.

I often wonder if it’s just me being overly sensitive to these situations. Is it the invasion of personal space, or maybe the claustrophobic notion of being in a cramped, toilet stall-sized box?

I really hope I’m not the only one who feels this way. The fact of the matter is, when anybody I don’t know comes into the same elevator as me, I become hyperaware of every little thing I do and what the other person does. I even become annoyed when someone so much as sniffles. That can’t be normal.

So do I continue to endure the awkwardness of riding the elevator just to make it to my room faster? Should I fight through every socially excruciating moment, and just suck it up? In life, we can’t always avoid something just because it makes us uncomfortable. We need to tackle those everyday obstacles head-on, and for God’s sake, stop running.

Now I ask again, the next time I need to take the elevator and a swarm of strangers wait beside me, do I simply suck it up?

No thanks, I would rather take the stairs.

At least my hips, thighs and buttocks will thank me for it.

You are waiting for the elevator to go up to your room. Not a soul lingers nearby, leaving you to your fleeting thoughts as you continue to wait.

The annoying bleeps of the elevator drag you out of your sleep-deprived trance. As the doors part, you shuffle in absentmindedly, pressing your floor number. The doors slowly, slowly slide closed.

Suddenly, someone else slaps a hand on the inside of the door.

“Hold the elevator!” she gasps, even though the wretched machine won’t move an inch if it senses a limb within a two-mile radius.

You step back to allow room and nod, pretending you would have waited for her if she was any farther away or didn’t have her fingers wedged between closing doors.

Finally the doors seal shut, like the lid to a tomb encasing its victims.

A heavy silence falls over you and your still-gasping friend, though she is trying desperately not to sound winded. Suddenly, in the small confines of the elevator, every shred of sound magnifies to a cacophony of explosions.

The girl, who has now whipped out her cell phone to alleviate the awkwardness, begins texting rapidly. Each button pressed sounds like a bomb going off.

You shift your weight uncomfortably, cringing as your shoe squeaks against the floor. Were your shoes always that loud?

Vaguely, in the back of your mind, you hear the Jeopardy theme song marking the seconds stretching into forever.

It isn’t until the elevator reaches the girl’s floor and she spills out that you realize you were holding your breath. Inexplicably, the behaviors you were so conscious of moments ago slip to the back of your mind, and you feel as if a cement-filled compress has been taken off your shoulders. The awkwardness of being enclosed with a stranger thankfully disappear; at least until next time.

This scenario, pathetically enough, isn’t that much of an exaggeration. There’s something about being in an elevator that makes an encounter with a stranger far more painful than it has to be.

I often wonder if it’s just me being overly-sensitive to these situations. Is it the invasion of personal space, or maybe the claustrophobic notion of being in a cramped, toilet stall-sized box?

I really hope I’m not the only one who feels this way. The fact of the matter is, when anybody I don’t know comes into the same elevator as me, I become hyperaware of every little thing I do, and what the other person does, and even become annoyed when someone does so much as sniffle. That can’t be normal.

So do I continue to endure the awkwardness of riding the elevator just to make it to my room faster? Should I fight through every socially excruciating moment, and just suck it up? In life, we can’t always avoid something just because it makes us uncomfortable. We need to tackle those everyday obstacles head-on, and for God’s sake, stop running.

Now I ask again, the next time I need to take the elevator and a swarm of strangers wait beside me, do I simply suck it up?

No thanks, I would rather take the stairs.

At least my hips, thighs and buttocks will thank me for it.

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