My Kind of Peeps

So this morning I was waiting for the elevator in my office building lobby. I had a big fucking headache, which is not unusual, especially lately because the weather keeps changing like a girl who can’t make up her mind which dress she wants to wear for prom.

There was a guy waiting for the elevator, too. He had a bicycle. Why? Idk. It was clear that he intended to take this bicycle onto the elevator, which was slightly disturbing.

There were two women waiting. They did not look happy. Why should they? We were all going to work.

The elevator arrived with a ding. And also an idiot. Some smiling doofus with a tie bounced off and held the door. “Good morning!” he chirped at Bike Guy.

Bike Guy grunted and wheeled his bike on. The women got on/in. I got in.

Tie Doofus still held the door. “No one’s smiling!” he admonished cheerfully.

One of the women smiled at him.

(It wasn’t me, obviously.)

“That’s better!” he twittered and released his hold on the door.

As the elevator began rising, Bike Guy said, “I hate to dismiss someone’s kindness, but….”

“That guy was really annoying,” one of the women finished.

“Yeah,” said the other one.

I said nothing. I don’t like to talk to strangers on elevators.

But I felt a vague glow of connectedness with these peeps, which is about as good as it gets for me at 9AM on a Thursday in Irvine.

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21 responses to “My Kind of Peeps

  1. A part of me totally gets what you’re saying (I have managed to get the folks in my cubicle area to stop hollering “Gesundheit!” at every blasted sneeze, because that’s just distracting as heck), but – yes, there is a but: I also try to be the one who talks to people on elevators. After a trip to France, where everyone greets you (“Bonjour!”), I discovered how nice it was to acknowledged by another person, to be seen. So I try to acknowledge the existence of others. Who knows, it may cheer somebody up (not you, natch, but you know, somebody 😉 ).

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    • I had a similar experience when I moved to the U.S. South. Being a Northeasterner by birth, at first I was very suspicious of these people always smiling and greeting each other, but then I started thinking it was nice.

      I don’t chat in elevators, because, STRANGER DANGER! but I do return good mornings and actually, occasionally, smile with teeth and everything.

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  2. I was walking from my car to the gate to get into work. I was facing East and the sun was at that level where it’s right in your eyes. I had my head down so I wouldn’t look into the sun.

    A co-worker, one of those cheerful chippy ones, passes me by, giggles out a cheery “Good Morning!” and then stops. “Why so glum? You need to hold your head UP and SMILE!”

    I was young then, and shy about calling people fuckwits, so I didn’t.

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  3. AD - Elevator Rider Supreme

    Elevator etiquette is something near and dear to me. Elevator door opens, and I’m confronted by a herd of office drones standing –><– this close to the door, staring like a deer in headlights. As the doors are struggling to close against the "Open" button that someone has mashed, I finally push my way to the front and say "MOVE!" after which I can actually get off (and, incidentally, so can everyone else on the elevator.) And I'M the asshole, right?

    Or, variant, about six males in the elevator all crowding around the door when it opens, all sticking a single arm into the doorway, manfully holding the door open for miss pert-ass so she can get off. Yeah, guys, one of you gets to hit that because you out-macho'd and out-door-held the others.

    Dipshits.

    All this means NO ONE can get off the elevator. Followed up by everyone trying to decide who gets to go next. Usually broken up when I say "Everyone stop being polite and get off the fucking elevator."

    Works every time.

    Maybe it's just the elevator environment that's the problem. I was in an elevator in a courthouse a couple of years ago, fresh off my bike, smelling like hot road and wearing almost grey old leather, greasy levis, and my cut (I was in a club in those days.) A lawyer I knew and heartily detested (a mutual thing) got on the elevator, stared at me. He was wearing a high-dollar suit with a ruby-colored tie. Looked great. His lip curled. "You look like a criminal," he said. "Yeah," I agreed. "And you look like a scumbag defense lawyer. I win." General laughter, and he got about as red as his jewel-tone tie. He didn't say anything else, but he never got over it. Trust me on that. Cost me later, too.

    Totally worth it.

    Probably unrelated: My "Productive Interactions With Others" rating on quarterly evaluations seems to be a bit low. Any advice from anyone?

    (Yeah, I know this is about cheery self-affirmers who seem to take it personally if you're not in their shiny/sparkly universe and are perfectly comfortable diving into your pleasingly annoying dark personal space to make it happen. But I just hate people on elevators. Just sayin…)

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    • If you hate people on elevators, stop being one. Take the fucking stairs. Or keep doing the world some good by reminding people how the fuck to use the damned things. (We have the same issue with busses where I live, but we’re getting better. In a couple of years, we won’t only be waiting outside to get in while passengers get off first, but we will have figured out to stand to one side while waiting. I think people need to be told which side, though. That’s probably it.)

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      • AD (Cement-Walled Bunker Version)

        Yup – but my limit on no-elevator is 3 floors (up) and six floors (down.) Anything over that, and all them grey mice in their movable cage are just gonna have to learn to get along with ME. Also, an increasing number of buildings/offices have one-way locks on the stairwell doors. You can go into the stairwell, and down to the first floor, but you can’t get out anywhere else.

        I mean, not to be paranoid or anything, but as far as I can tell, everyone in multi-floor buildings AND their architects spend all their time trying to find new ways to screw up my day. Which may be part of the universal conspiracy to fuck with me that’s beginning to come into focus.

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  4. Yeah . . . what? The guy brought his bicycle on the elevator?

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  5. It’s one thing to try to be cheerful and spread a positive attitude and all that, but I CANNOT STAND aggressively cheerful people who insist that you be as cheerful as they are. Just because you do it with a smile doesn’t make you less of a bully.

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  6. I try to smile and say “Good morning” when greeted, but there are days it’s just not going to happen. If Dufus gave me the “No one’s smiling!” on one of my bad days, the best he could hope for would be me snarling something like, “My dog died [probably not, but the actual details of whatever’s gone wrong are SO not his business], you asshole, so no, I’m not smiling.”

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  7. I always handle these people by looking at them imploringly and saying: “I just shit my pants… again!” Then I throw my arms around them and wail: “That’s the third time this morning!”

    Nowadays I seem to get to ride the elevator alone.

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  8. I smile and talk and initiate converstation, but I don’t stand nose to nose: it’s a sort of sidewise thing, and people can signal interest or disinterest by turning toward or away. And I’m pleasant because, really, that’s how I am. Most of the time. Plus Midwestern, yadda yadda. But I never tell people how they should feel or look. That’s just really arrogant and creepy. In any situation.

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  9. Last night I went to a “Fork and Cork” event at a local farmer’s market with two friends. And while we were sitting at a table, sipping wine (in my case, beer) and tasting the odd bits of food put out, a rough couple came over to the table, clearly schnackered and clearly not part of this paid to attend event. The man, a little dirty and nearly toothless, started a conversation after he said “Wine?” and I replied “Yes: you can get a ticket at the door.”

    Overly friendly? I think not. Still, when we finally disengaged from him (these women were public health nurses and very used to setting firm boundaries), one of my friends said “Whose energy summoned him over here?!”

    That would be me. Between the superannuated Campbell’s Soup kid face and willingness to make eye contact — and maybe having spent the last two years soliciting stories from random strangers — I have the Come Hither Oh Ye Weird Ones energy.

    And yes, Dust. You are an asshole. But that’s who you want to be, yes?

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    • Oh, thank God! Someone finally got it…I work so hard, and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, and suddenly, with a single sentence, it’s all worthwhile. (I’d probably be the over-boozed party-crasher guy standing there scratching his ass trying to get you to invite me to sit at your table…)

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  10. Plus Midwestern, yadda yadda.

    chris.tine, I get that. More power to you. Midwestern means you haven’t tried to change your culture so fast that it doesn’t make any sense anymore. I see people in Kansas City who resemble Paula’s elevator car mates, but I think they’re from out of town. The bicycle in the elevator thing–only in California, I think–this from the state that brought you motorcycle lane-splitting, as in, you are a child of the universe, and you have a right to be anywhere you want to, because you’re special.

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    • AD (Well, My MOMMY Thinks I'm Special)

      That “I’m a Special Snowflake” attitude, of course, is probably combined with a dose of “You can’t lock this thing up well enough to keep it from being stolen by random street people before you get across the lobby.”

      Just count yourself as lucky that the selfish prick didn’t come to work in a Volvo that day.

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  11. Thanks, Roy and Dust. Midwest also means humility is a greater value than self esteem. And you will be politely shunned if you take yourself too seriously, except in the areas of religion and parenting, and we are working on that. I am a Pretty Nice Person and I’m not ashamed of it, nor is it a false face. Deal with it, and would you like a little cookie to go with that coffee?

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    • AD (Pavement Burn Edition)

      Two things:

      1. In my world, taking yourself too seriously can easily result in being chucked out the front door hard enough that you don’t even hit pavement until after you’ve bounced off the parking block over by where the strippers take a “smoke” break; and,

      2. I like nice people. They’re fascinating, in a cultural/anthropological way.

      (You do know I’m kidding, right? Paula will ban me in a heartbeat if she thinks I’m just stirring… oh, shit, what’s the “nice people” word…poop? Yeah, maybe. OK, we’re gonna go with “poop” here.)

      Like

  12. Something as inane as an elevator ride. You can write about anything and make it fun.
    I usually joke on elevators, just to diffuse my own discomfort. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

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  13. Once I was on an elevator with a corpse and two morticians. Talk about discomfort. But they were very, very good at generating a stream of small talk to lighten the mood enough so the cable wouldn’t snap–I was amused that the “small talk” ended in mid-sentence when the elevator doors opened on the floor we needed.

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  14. Deal with it, and would you like a little cookie to go with that coffee?

    No, no thanks. Not right now. Maybe later.

    Like

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