Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NYC Elevators: A Primer

Hannah had this joke in her dot-to-dot book yesterday:
Q: What's red and goes up and down?
A: A tomato on an elevator.
She thought that was hilarious.

When you come to visit me, you will have to use elevators a few times. I am sure that you have successfully used elevators before. And you will figure these out soon enough. But I thought I'd walk you through it just so you can avoid a little frustration. First, I want to tell you a little about Washington DC elevators, just because I am thinking about it.

Many of the DC elevators had 2 buttons that we could push where you stand to call the elevator. One was a small round button that I am used to seeing and pushing on every elevator everywhere. DON'T PUSH THAT ONE! It's the "call for help" button. And there's a large red square button. Push that one. In DC, if there are only 2 floors, like for the subway there's the street and the platform, the elevator knows that you want the floor you're not already on and it will just take you there. Kind of cool. And can I just say that every stop I ever saw in DC had an elevator. That's just dreamy.

NYC subway elevators don't seem to know that you want the other floor. So you do have to push a button. Too bad. I'd rather not touch anything in a New York City subway elevator/urinal. Also, when you push the up or down arrow, it might light up, might not. Don't just stand there pushing it over and over. You will alert everyone around you that you are a tourist who expects up arrows to light up like they do everywhere else in the world. Just stay cool and wait. The elevator will come.

Now the elevator's here. Stand back or you'll get trampled by the people trying to get out of the elevator to get to fresh air or a train. Often folks have crammed themselves into the elevator and the combination of elevator smell and body odor gets old fast. People act like you're trying to kill them if you impede their exit. Just step back already. You might miss this elevator, but hopefully, by now you've figured out from this post that the stairs are better anyway.

If you do make it on the elevator you will probably get way closer to a stranger than you ever wanted to. If you happen to have the place to yourself, you will probably need to hit the "Door Close" button. Ick. At least when there are other people on the elevator, you can wait until someone else bites the bullet and touches the buttons. So Paul and I were talking about this "Door Close" button. In NYC, it actually closes the doors! I've never seen that anywhere before. Paul says he always thought it may as well have been the "I'm bored" button. But here, it closes the door. Now select a floor. No it probably won't light up. If you want to get mugged keep pushing the button and acting surprised that it hasn't acknowledged you. If not, wait patiently and try not to breathe too much.

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