That Pesky Close Door Button

I work in a building with an elevator. Just about every day I am in the elevator with someone who is furiously pushing the door close button. Some days I just laugh to myself, others I need to restrain myself from throttling the individual. When I feel generous, I tell the person the truth, pushing that button won’t make the doors close faster.

There are many myths about the button, that it is a placebo or that it is on a delay. Unlike some thermostats in buildings, it is not a placebo, and it is not on a delay. It is there for a very specific purpose, and that is to close the door when being operated in fire service mode, in attendant mode or during maintenance when manual operation of the doors is necessitated.

If you are not a fireman, a paid elevator operator or a repair person quit hitting the button, you’re driving me nuts. The doors close on a time frame that is part, “Whatever I feel like,” and part American Disabilities Act mandated delay time. You see, it is important for elevator doors to stay open for those in society with disabilities who may not move as fast as our button pumpers would like.

Door closers usually fall into two camps, the “I’m important, in a hurry and I want you to know it” and “I’m sorry to have delayed you, perhaps I can feel less awkward by pushing this button.” I at least appreciate the efforts of those who have delayed me, there is a subtle courtesy in their attempts.

The elevator ecosystem is fascinating. Personal space is invaded, your 2-3 foot buffer gone, trapped in a closed box with no way out. Is this thing built like one of those rattling edge of oblivion carnival rides? Why does that person next to me smell like that and what is he digging for in his pockets. This minute or so of anxiety creates an interesting theater. I too am not immune. I generally find myself thinking, “what part of this elevator would I make my toilet if I get trapped in here all day.” Don’t worry about me though, I have a plan.

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