Friday, March 27, 2009

Elevator Music

You have heard a song referenced before as elevator music. It's usually some slow ballad that most likely doesn't have any words and is very instrumental. I always wondered why the management of such a hotel or building of any sort would pick such boring music to entertain their guests for the short ride to their destination. I think I may have figured it out.

Elevators are small confined spaces that, for the not so rich, are pubic. When you are waiting for an elevator you never now what/who will be waiting for you when those doors open. Sometimes it's empty,and sometimes you can barely fit yourself and whatever it is you are carrying. No matter the capacity, however, there seems to be a sort of elevator etiquette.

Now I don't believe anyone was ever taught how to act in an elevator, but for some reason everyone knows. When an elevator is empty it is business as usual, but when it comes time to share the traveling box a different atmosphere is acquired. The change is instantaneous and is never thought about by the parties involved.

When an elevator is shared it becomes almost silent. A group of friends can be walking down the hallway mid conversation or laughing and carrying on, but once they enter an occupied elevator all conversation takes a hiatus. The friends look at each other and smile, and the other people in the elevator do the same. Once the doors open and a group leaves, and conversations are restarted.

This awkwardness in the elevator is something that is not very well understood, but it is fairly consistent throughout the world of elevators. I believe the elevator music gives a break in the silence and a feeling that is much less awkward. It allows there to be a sort of excuse for the breaks in conversation, because everyone "wants" to listen to "Elevator Music".


  1. I loved this post. I always wonder why people are so silent in the elevator. Have you ever wondered what would happen if we didn't all face the doors? I once received a list of things to do in the elevator. Several of them included being really close to another person in the elevator.
    It's funny how many things we 'learn' without being taught. Professors would call these social norms. I just think its funny how weird we think people are when they buck these traditional things.
    Your blog change looks excellent. I always enjoy your observations. Keep up the good work!

  2. This was quite entertaining. I definitely can relate to the "mid-conversation" scenario described here. It was just the other day I was in the middle of a story talking to my friend and the moment we stepped into the elevator it was like it would have been inappropriate to continue my story, even though it seemed to be common knowledge to the other riders that was the case. These socially constructed rules that we don't understand really can be entertaining.