I haven’t discussed my love for elevator etiquette recently. Let’s explore that.
The other day I made the rookie mistake of attempting to use the elevator towards the end of the lunch rush, which means all the secretaries and their hangers on are all pouring back into the building and up the elevator to our office. This doesn’t seem like much of a problem until you start to consider the clusterfuck of logistics that accompany elevator riding in Tokyo office buildings: ladies first as a concept put in practice stresses people out; women, in an attempt to be placating or whatevs, often hold the doors open for the men; even when there is plenty of time to exit the elevator without holding the door open, someone always holds it open lest someone else’s shoulder be violated by a closing door; always keep bowing until the doors close. Always.
When an elevator finally rocked up, it opened to reveal a dozen pairs of eyes staring back at me in surprise. Oh! That whitie still works here! Then began one of the most painful elevator emptyings I have ever born witness to. After a bit of foot hopping, the ladies in the front got out at a leisurely pace and began to make headway with the Opening of the Office Door routine which can sometimes trump elevator procedures in its inefficiency.
While they busied themselves with um, opening a door and walking through it, some more secretaries got off after hesitating long enough that the elevator button bitch wouldn’t think them presumptuous for exiting the elevator in an order that made the most sense from a purely practical perspective. Then there are two secretaries left cowering in the corner while a male Professional plays button bitch and encourages them to get out first (who says chivalry is dead?). They of course have to giggle and pussyfoot around a bit before trying to get him off the elevator first. I mean, god forbid they just get off the fucking elevator. Knight in armor that he is, the Professional insists that they get off first, which they finally do paying no heed to the fact that I have been waiting, oh, some 10 minutes to get on this elevator since the doors first opened. As the Professional and his horse get off I start making a move for the door, which promptly closes in front of me. I make some half-assed attempts at sticking my foot in the door to no avail. This could have been avoided had they all just gotten off the elevator in the most logical order instead of straining the doors’ patience. As I start to swear aloud while looking at the last of the secretaries entering the office doors, I see a couple of them have seen my failed elevator attempt and are tittering among themselves. Maybe it’s pitying tittering (say that 10 times fast), maybe it’s the only way they know how to deal with uncomfortable situations, maybe they’re just not that nice.