I have made it clear on many occasions that I am not big on small talk. I tolerate basic courtesies such as saying hello and asking someone how they are doing (provided they don'take this as open-ended invitation to actually tell me how they are doing). But that's pretty much where I draw the line.
Unless there is a hurricane or tornado headed my direction, I don't want to talk about the weather. And after the Superbowl, I don't want to talk about the Seahawks for several months.
But it is in an elevator that I really don't want to engage in small or large talk, especially with strangers. The only worst places I can think to strike up a conversation with a stranger is when you are sitting in a toilet stall or changing your clothes in a locker room at the gym.
An elevator is a small, enclosed space that is intended for vertical transportation, not conversation.
There are several things in particular I wish people would never say or do in the elevator:
- Do not ask me whether the elevator is going up (or down). I am likely to ask you whether you flunked the remedial arrow lesson in kindergarten.
- Do not step into an elevator that is going up (the same direction as the up arrow outside the door), push the lobby button, realize you made a mistake and then explain to me that you'll ride up with me and then take the elevator down. It is pretty much a given at that point.
- Do not ask me whether I'm going to work out when I am wearing warm-ups, tennis shoes and carrying a gym bag.
- Do not get in the elevator on the 4th floor and push the 3rd floor button, smile and say, "I know I should use the stairs." You should.
- If you step into the elevator and I am carrying a wrapped gift or flowers, under no circumstances say either, "You shouldn't have" or "Are those for me?"
- Do not apply makeup, comb your hair, brush or floss your teeth or perform any form of personal grooming. It's an elevator, not a bathroom.
- Do not answer or talk on your cell phone, especially if you are on the phone with your doctor's office asking advice about a strange rash.
- Do not step onto the elevator with a co-worker and continue a conversation you were having in a meeting. The elevator is not a conference room.
- If the elevator doors are closing as you approach it, do not stick your hand in to make the doors open. It is rude and if there were justice in the world, the doors would clamp down on your hand like the Great White in Jaws.
- Last but not least, don't cough, sneeze, pass gas, belch, clear your throat or wheeze.
I threw in that last one just so I'd have a magic list of ten. I tend to pass gas in an elevator, but only when I'm exiting and other people are entering. What can I say?