Elevator Etiquette and Self Awareness

Have you ever had that moment when you’re riding in an elevator and when it stops at your floor, you step out as it opens, almost colliding with the person standing there waiting for the elevator?

Let me ask another question.

Have you ever had that moment when you’re waiting for an elevator and when it finally arrives, you step towards it as it opens, almost colliding with the person who is getting out of the elevator?

My guess is that you’ve been in both of these situations. Common courtesy is that the person exiting the elevator should have the right of way to get off before the next person or group of people enter the elevator. We all know this. Why do we always look surprised as these near collisions happen every day?

I ride on elevators 6 or 8 or maybe more times a day. I am both of the above people. My subconscious is having me act as such that the elevator I’m riding, or that I’m waiting for, is solely in operation for me.

Now, I’m not saying that we are all narcissists, but perhaps that we are each the center of our own universe. I think that’s OK.

You are the only person who knows what you are thinking and feeling, your wants, needs and desires. Even if you explain these things to another, they are receiving your thoughts and emotions through the filter of their own self. Most of us probably don’t know what our filter looks like or acts like because to us, it just is.

There are 7.5 billion people on the planet and counting. That’s 7.5 billion filters through which senses, emotions and ideas are being passed. We all know that a tree is a tree, but what a tree is to me will be different than what a tree is to you. Taking that another step further, what love is to me will be different than what love is to you. Again, that is OK. Be yourself, there’s no one better! (sorry for the cheese)

Here comes the caveat! It’s OK but just as we appreciate similarities in others, we have to remember to respect differences. This is grade school stuff. Why are we struggling so much as a society to see this?? Lately I’ve seen signs popping up at restaurants that state that they welcome all cultures, all religions, etc. This one I snapped a photo of is at Atomic Cowboy on Tennyson.

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Welcome Sign at Atomic Cowboy

At lunch a few weeks ago someone commented on the same sign at Illegal Pete’s and asked “Do we really need a sign? Doesn’t it defeat the purpose…” or something along those lines. I didn’t want to get into it, but honestly, yeah, we need that sign. There is so much hate and injustice in the world and in our own back yards. I applaud anyone who has the nerve to say loud and clear that all are welcome.

Here’s another variation of the sign that NPR reported on in December. I’ve also seen this in peoples’ yards.

My elevator anecdote stresses how routinely we tend to think only in terms of ourselves. We don’t run into the person on the elevator because we are judging them or dislike them but simply because we are not thinking about them. In the elevator case it’s really not a big deal but every time we judge someone it is fundamentally because of the same reason.

We tend to think about others’ decisions and beliefs through our own filter, not the unique filter (experiences, upbringing, wants, fears) of the person whom we are judging. We may not even realize we’re doing it! We need to do better with having compassion for each other.

It’s not always easy. I run into people entering/exiting elevators every day.

This is Water by David Foster Wallace, is a favorite speech of mine by one of my favorite authors. In a nutshell the speech is about tolerance and living consciously. We are all in this together. I have This is Water tattooed on my wrist as a reminder to do just that.


As we go into the holiday weekend where we are sure to be having fun in busy places with friends, family and strangers, remember to be patient and respect and enjoy our differences.

Be kind. Every day. To everyone. The world really needs it right now.


On another note, poor baby Doc is getting neutered today. It has to be done but I feel so sad for the little guy. He’s at Planned Pethood Plus which is the clinic run by Dr. Jeff who you may have seen on Animal Planet’s Rocky Mountain Vet. Dr. Jeff himself did Stella’s spay and I know Doc is in good hands.

All TV fame aside, PPP is an awesome clinic run by people who devote their daily lives to making sure that companion animals get the care they need to live a healthy life and at a low cost so that it’s accessible to everyone. I’m thankful that they are right down the street from us.


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