Before I came to Columbia, I never realized how awkward elevator rides are. I usually just start fake texting to avoid eye contact, but is that bitchy?
Dear Awkward McAwkward,
Yeah, elevators are mad awkward; you’re confined to a 20-square-foot box. Still, you don’t want to move your lazy ass up the stairs, right? If only there were some sort of ‘vator vortex to prevent sweaty/mysteriously slimy people from getting all up in your space. But alas, this is the plight of the Hellevator. Worse than the sardine-can-squish is the painful pairing—when you’re stuck in an elevator with only one other person. Even so, that’s no reason to be a Bitch and a half.
In her Senior Wisdom, Sari Ancel, SEAS ’10, presented a fantastic friendship formula: Stop and Chat > Wave Hello > Awkward Ignore. “Awkwardly ignoring someone you know [or recently met] is not only super mean, but also not worth the effort of pretending not to know them.” It’s common decency, folks.
Fake fiddling with your phone is just rude. An elevator isn’t necessarily the ideal location to share your deepest darkest secrets with a stranger. Still, there’s nothing wrong with cracking a sweet smile. Don’t go overboard though; a full toothy grin is creepy. Instead, try for the cute Jim Halpert-esque half-smile. And you never know, maybe you’ll make a friend. Bwog remembers a simple smile exchange evolving into a semi-friendship. After said smiles, Bwog’s elevator-mate extended his hand and introduced himself. How classy.
Remember kids, eye contact is sexy!
P.S. One Bwogger was initially so awkward in elevators she was confronted about it by a stranger. True story. She arrived at Columbia having been taught never to speak in an elevator. At the school she attended for 13 years, an elevator operator enforced strict rules of decorum: students were expected to face forward, keep their hands to themselves and stay silent. The rules had some merit, though. Everyone’s shouting over each other in a little box is a recipe for claustrophobia. For those who follow the code, the elevator grows to be the perfect place for shutting down, even for a few seconds. As a result, graduates of this fine institution, though usually friendly, become socially inept when they board an elevator.
One day during NSOP, the Bwogger’s silent elevator meditation was interrupted by another rider. “I’ve seen you at least five times today in this elevator and not once have you even acknowledged me.” Startled, the Bwogger looked around the elevator, only to realize that she and the scolder were the only two people there. After frantically explaining her elevator riding indoctrination, she left with a renewed commitment to proper elevator etiquette.