The last Friday of July has been designated as National Talk in an Elevator Day, the day to break the silence and say something on that elevator. This admonition seems totally ridiculous. How do you even start a conversation when you have been conditioned to look straight ahead, look at your phone, or look at your shoes, and not say a word for the 2 to 50 floors you might be ascending. Time to speak up, but what should you talk about? Here are a few suggestions to ease you out of your comfort zone.
- Ask a question. But keep in mind you want a short answer as some of your elevator mates are only going up one floor. How about “Anyone from out of town?” or “Is this the building they filmed Die Hard in?” or “Has anyone ever been stuck in an elevator?” These are sure to get you a few answers and maybe a few chuckles.
- Tell a joke. “What did one elevator say to the other? I think I’m coming down with something!”
- Announce the floors as you reach them like they used to in multilevel department stores. Third floor linens, fifth floor children’s clothing, eighth floor pots and pans. Be careful, of course, not to offend anyone on the elevator when thinking up a category for the floor.
- Give a mini-etiquette lesson while on the trip up. Remind everyone that ladies should exit before men – when logical in the situation of course. Also, if you are riding to the 10th floor and are in the front of the car, kindly step out so others can disembark, then step back in. Make the subtle reminder that facing forward is how to stand, but passing gas is never appreciated.
- Discuss elevator myths. Did you know that the elevator arriving at its floor triggers the doors to open, and they are never triggered to open to an empty shaft? Did you know that although most people think an elevator is held up by a single cable that might snap and send you careening down the shaft, that it is actually held up by several cables?
- Read the headlines from the paper. You could cover the sports page and give the highlights of the baseball games played the previous night.
Whatever you choose to talk about, it’s time to break the silence and have a little fun!