One of life’s most puzzling questions: why do (most) people go silent when they get in a lift? I honestly can’t think of any rational explanation for it. There’s no sign saying “DO NOT TALK” and it’s certainly not against the law, but it seems there is this rigid, unfailing code of conduct which people abide by when getting into a lift and it utterly baffles me. Think of all the times you’ve stood in a lobby, waiting for a lift alongside others. People are happily nattering away (yourself included), the lift comes, you all bundle in, and all off a sudden everyone synchronously looses their voice. It’s like box of silence, stifling silence which breeds unnecessary awkwardness between yourself and others, for no apparent reason. What do you care if others listen in on an innocent conversation between you and a friend? They’re not going to have the balls to muscle in your conversation anyway. You wouldn’t care if people were listening on train, bus or aeroplane, so why in a lift?
I have to admit I am the silent type, the conformist, the one who would rather shuffle between the cattle to press my floor number then ask someone to do it for me. But it’s not because I’m scared to open my mouth, it’s because I am inherently claustrophobic. I’m too busy praying that the lift won’t break down, that I won’t have a panic attack or that someone won’t fart; the smell of violence frying my eyes, like I’m in a silent gas chamber. Talking of farting in lifts, seriously, why can’t people just hold it in? Why do they have to pick the most inappropriate time to let off, it is the epitome of inconsiderateness. Are they that deluded to think they’ll get away with it?
The awkwardness doesn’t stop here though. Maximum lift weight is something that even the fat person thinks he/she can defy. But you can’t defy gravity if you’re weighing in at 300lbs. I’m not being ‘fattist’ here, but if you’ve got a belly on you and there are already 12 people crammed into a lift which says 1200kg max. DON’T GET IN. unless you want an embarrassing situation where the lift doors refuse to close. I once came across a man who tried to defy these odds. There I was standing with a dozen others like a pack of sardines ready to head upstairs when a man (obviously running late) ran to catch the lift before the doors closed. Unceremoniously he tried to squeeze himself in, but there was simply no room at the inn. His protruding belly got wedged between the doors which continued to open and close. And open and close. And open and close like they were jammed. Everyone cursed under their breath. Cringe didn’t even cover it. “Oops! One too many pies methinks” he chuckled animatedly as he hopped out the lift and rubbed his belly. His words were received by blank stares from inside the lift as the doors finally slammed shut in his face. I hope he learnt his lesson for his own sake as well as others.
Considering how much I hate lifts I don’t know how I managed to work at 1 Canada Square (the tallest building in the UK up until last year). Everyday was a struggle getting up to my office, but at least I didn’t work on the top floor, it could’ve been worse. It was the same scenario day in day out. Walk to lift. Press ‘up’. Talk to fellow colleagues. Get in lift. Stop talking. Get out. Start talking. I steadily grew used to the pre-empted silence. On one particular day, I was running extremely late for work. I repeatedly jabbed the ‘up’ button willing the lift to come sooner and dashed inside to press floor 22. The doors were about to close when a blonde bombshell wearing nothing but a half buttoned mac and hooker heels ran (with jiggling boobs) to catch my lift. I lunged to press ‘> <’ (close doors). I had no time for passengers, especially ones who looked like that. But it was too late and I was too obvious. She outstretched her bare leg and prevented the doors from closing, glaring at me for being so inconsiderate as she stepped inside. I sheepishly shuffled to one side hoping that she wouldn’t press any floor before floor 22. I couldn’t afford hold ups. (As a side issue, nothing bothers me more than getting in a lift which stops at every floor before mine. Or people who use the lift to go up one floor. Just take the stairs and stop holding me up you lazy git.) Luckily she didn’t press any floor number; she was heading to floor 22. I came to the conclusion that she was probably doing a photo shoot for the Daily Mirror sports desk. But even so, put some clothes on on your way up love this is Canary Wharf not Stringfellows. Are you lost? I shouldn’t have had to be exposed to such blatant nudity first thing in the morning; but it didn’t stop me from looking. I was bewildered as to how someone could be so comfortable swaning about in such a corporate environment. As the lift went up, I stood there ogling at her one nipple on show as she followed my gaze. I quickly averted my eyes but it was too late. I’d been caught red-handed in my lesbian antics; the silence was unbearable, the tension you could cut with a knife. I can honestly say it was the longest lift ride of my life, of which there was no escape. It taught me one more lesson about lifts: don’t look at anyone either.