Humans Suck at Elevator Etiquette

People of Earth, please take time to read this PSA. For the BILLIONS of us that ride in autonomous, vertical death boxes known as elevators — an unspoken etiquette has emerged over the past few decades.

Unfortunately, many of us outright IGNORE these important social standards and it must be discussed. This wrong must be righted.

So here we go, the world’s most exhaustive, up-to-date list of elevator do's and don’ts:

Getting on an elevator, going up:

  • If there’s a line, don’t cut. What’s wrong with you? Are you Beyonce? No? Then wait like the rest of us.
  • When the elevator doors open, let people get off BEFORE you get on. People exiting the elevator have the right-of-way. Stand to the side, outside of the elevator. Do not enter the elevator until you’re 100% positive it’s empty. Why is this so hard for so many people?
  • Acknowledge the existence of others — it’s as simple as nodding politely.
  • If you’re the first person in the elevator stand close to the buttons (step to the right). It’s now your responsibility to ask other people that step into the death box with you what floor they’re going to. Your question should sound like this: “What floor?” Some people will ignore you and tap on their own button. It’s fine, shake it off — they’re terrible people who have trust issues.
  • DO NOT press any other floors other than your own, unless the shape of the buttons resembles a Christmas tree, in which case — you’re in the wrong if you don’t slather your hands over the buttons like butter on toast.
  • Once you’re inside the steel sarcophagus and you see someone trying to make the elevator, hold the gosh dang door for them. If the door begins to close, and there’s less than a 2 foot gap — let it close. You tried your best. They’ll forgive you. Don’t put your limbs in harms way.
  • Don’t smash the close door button. You’re not playing Street Fighter 2, so stop button mashing. People will hate you, and you’ll hate yourself. Also it’s not connected to anything. The button is a lie.
  • If you’re on the phone, get off the phone before you get on the elevator. Staying on the phone is RUDE, and it’s likely that the call will be dropped. You know this. Don’t tempt fate.
  • Don’t be that person that rides an elevator to the second floor. Walk to the second floor. If you press #2, the entire elevator will judge you and gossip about your ailments. Do yourself a favor and take the stairs. Get those step counts in AND become a less horrible person.
  • Take off your backpack and hold it next to you while entering. Hold it by your legs. Keep it low. If you don’t — it’ll mush up against people and their frustrated faces. Not a huge fan of getting pummeled in the face by a hipster “hand-woven” backpack.
  • If you’re a smoker, air yourself out. Walk around and spin in circles for 5 minutes, run, do jumping jacks. I don’t care what you do, if you walk in smelling like an old chimney, I’m getting off.

Riding in an elevator (going up or down):

  • Face the door. You know how awkward it is when someone steps into an elevator and just stares directly into your soul. Very. It’s very awkward.
Awkward like this ⬆️. Terribly awkward.
  • Don’t look at someone else’s phone. Look straight ahead. Yes they’re probably on Facebook, no it’s none of your business.
  • Don’t eat. Ohh you got tacos?! Pulled pork? Delicious, good call. Stuff your face when you get off.
  • Guys, don’t hit on girls. It’s creepy and makes women feel incredibly uncomfortable. Only speak to a lady when spoken to.
  • Flirting is off limits, but compliments are okay, for the most part. Again, don’t be creepy.
  • Conversations with people you don’t know: limited to small talk only.
  • Conversation with people you do know: quiet, no secrets or gossip.
  • Don’t fart. Okay — try not to fart. If there are more than 6 people on the elevator, I’d be cool with letting one slide, but use caution here.
Don’t admit it. Walk out and privately celebrate your disgusting achievement.
  • No one wants to hear your music, no matter how cool you think it is. Looking at you, hipsters that work for Pitchfork. Turn off your speakers.
  • Your over-the-ear headphones are really loud, pretty much the same as speakers. Turn them down when you get on.
  • Again, phone calls literally never work. Tell the person on the line that you’re getting on an elevator. If you’re on the phone, I will grab it and hang up on the person you’re talking to. It’s a promise.
  • If you’re ‘talking’ on a bluetooth headset, don’t look at someone in the elevator while you’re talking. It’s deeply unsettling.
  • Please don’t jump. This isn’t the Hollywood Tower of Terror. I didn’t pay for a thrill ride. It’s a work day, and I can’t afford a heart attack. I’ve got a meeting dude, and two kids.
  • Do your best to respect peoples space. If you need to pretend that you’re a folded sheet of paper, do it. Stay out of peoples personal space. Odors abound, and we’re not in a club people, we’re in a tiny, badly lit box.
Become one with the wall of the elevator.

Riding with a significant other:

  • Don’t do something that would make them (your partner) nervous or embarrassed. Unless you’re pulling a prank on them — in which case — prepare to face the consequences later on.
  • Keep it PG — mayyybe PG-13. Hold hands, hug, but nothing weird. Hands where we can see them. Kissing shouldn’t be your go-to. You know the limits.

Riding with drunk people:

  • Get off the elevator as quickly as possible. Don’t risk getting vomited on.
  • If you’re the one that’s drunk, try really hard to be as normal as possible. Stand up straight. Some of you will end up looking and acting even dumber, but it’s worth a shot.

Riding with kids:

  • Kids are actually great on elevators (way better than adults), they’re usually in awe of humanities technological advancements.
  • Let them press the button, it’ll make their day.
  • Hold them in your arms if they’re younger than 3.
  • If they’re older than 3, keep them in front of you with your arms around them.
  • Sometimes kids get freaked out in elevators (especially glass ones). Do your best to keep them calm by talking to them.
  • Jump (just to freak them out).

Riding with pets:

  • Leashes are good. Use ’em. Hold onto ’em while you’re on the ride.
  • Most of the time, dogs are really, really scared of elevators. If you’ve got one, train them to be cool about it.
  • Hold your pets if they’re small enough to carry. No one wants a quasi-domesticated, potentially crazed ferret climbing up their leg.

Getting off an elevator:

  • If you’ve arrived on your floor, tell the other people in the elevator. Warn them that you’ll need to get off BEFORE the elevator doors open. Warn them. With words. Say “excuse me, this is my floor”.
  • Leave the elevator quickly. Don’t dilly-dally. When the doors open, you need to leave. Pull a Jordan Peele and (I’m so sorry) GET OUT.
You, on your floor.
  • For introverts leaving an elevator: Use a half-wave, half nod, half smile/frown, or a combination of all three (just try it) to say goodbye. You don’t need words, just an awkward gesture.
  • For extroverts leaving an elevator: Say “have a nice day” or something similar. You can wave too, if you’d like. No high-fives. Nobody’s that chipper, weirdo.
  • If you’re in the back, do not go first. Don’t push your way through. The zombie apocalypse isn’t here yet and season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead was a disappointment, so what’s the rush?
  • Gentlemen, let ladies out first, even if you’re in the front. I’m serious. Chivalry is dead — until it isn’t and you act like a total jerk.

Getting on an elevator, going down:

  • If there are other people already on the elevator, don’t move to the back. Step in, turn around, face the door and be happy you got a spot in a box hanging by a metal wire inside a tube of vertical concrete dangling dozens to hundreds of feet above more concrete. #Winning
  • When you step into an elevator, don’t press the ‘first floor’ button if it’s already pressed. Glance at it. If it’s lit, you’re good to go. Pressing it AGAIN will not help you get down any faster. Your fingers are not magical.
  • If you make unexpected stops on additional floors on the way down, DO NOT grumble, mumble, or moan. It’s not their fault, and it causes everyone on the elevator to get frustrated. Keep your cool.
Don’t get your beard in a tizzy. Relax, you’ll get there when you get there.
  • If the doors open and there are too many people, take the next one. Don’t cram. Why would you cram. Do unto others, right?
  • AGAIN: If you’re on the phone, get off the phone before you get on the elevator.

Group Rules:

  • Pack in, just don’t go over the weight limit.
  • If you’re with a group of 2 or 3 and there’s 1 or more people in the elevator, carry on (or make up) a conversation about something fantastical. Example: “Hey Frank, how did the heart surgery you performed yesterday go?” It makes other people think you’re incredibly cool, and always brightens their day to know they shared an elevator ride with a Spanish prince.
  • It’s okay to talk, but don’t be too loud. You don’t have to stop talking once you get on the elevator, but keep your noise level moderate to low.
  • Elevator dance parties are allowed if you and your friends are the only humans in the elevator.

Take the stairs

Did I miss an important rule? Let me know in the comments!

Frank Danna is an award winning social content creator, the Content Director for Softway (a creative Agency in Houston), and the co-founder of GhostCodes, a discovery app for Snapchat. His work has been enjoyed by over 65 million people across Vine (RIP) Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (FrankEDanna).

Like what you read? Give Frank Danna a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.