New York hotel bank of Elevators win gold at synchronised swimming and why my etiquette rules can mean death


Can no one programme elevators so they don’t all go up and down in unison? It is nearly fifty years since man started leaving litter on the moon, yet we can still spend a lifetime watching a bank of elevators all going in the same direction and stopping at the same floors... at the same time. I’m no early riser so can cut leaving a hotel a little fine to get to an airport or meeting on time. I once spent 15 minutes in a New York hotel waiting for an elevator to make it up to the 35th floor. Rather like waiting for a bus, long periods of nothing happening, then suddenly all six elevators arrived at my floor at the same time. I suspect to this day if you dusted the elevator call button for fingerprints, mine would come up as I had pushed  the damned fluorescent decent arrow  so often in exasperation they must still be engraved on it.

...and another thing

Here in Malta, however I discovered an elevator even more irritating than a waiter with a stammer trying to describe the dishes of the day. I had to pre-select the floor I wanted to go to. As I entered the hotel via the carpark I had no idea what floor the reception, bar, restaurant pool or even my friend’s room was on. I was faced with a bunch of letters from A-P. I was on P, presumably for parking. I selected L for Lobby… I think it must have stood for lobotomy as when the doors opened I was in a cellar.

The doors then closed and with no buttons in the lift I was a prisoner at the beck and call of the next customer and where he wanted to go. He was a she and was going to the hairdresser (Floor G). I tried to get out of the lift to make sure this Kafka-esque game ended and as the doors shut realised I still did not know where reception was (no, there was no R, G or 1).

I eventually discovered the building from roof to ground floor was eleven stories. A was the top floor with roof garden and pool. L, being the 12th letter in the alphabet was the first basement. P in fact, where I originally got on was actually 3rd basement level. Surely, you mean 4th basement. No dear reader, because for an extra dollop of confusion like many hotels there was no 13th (M) floor.

I mean seriously, I wonder who is the bigger idiot. The twisted genius who came up with this idea or the moron who said, “great, let’s launch a product line on this basis.”

...and another thing

Emergency phones in lifts. As pointless as advise to Kanye West to keep his opinions to himself…

Most phones are not even connected. And if they are, who to? Have you ever met anyone who says:

“Yeah, my job is a lift phone operator.”

I mean if a lift stops midway between a floor an alarm should sound. If it starts free falling from the 99th floor the only words I am going yell into the receiver before I collide with the bottom of the shaft will be “Oh shit…”

Would you believe the elevator is the safest way to travel. The total elevators move the equivalent of the world’s entire population every three days. By far and away the largest group of people to die in elevators are maintenance engineers.

This was not always the case. Believe or not if you had decent seats in the auditorium in Ancient Rome when you and the family could see a few lions munch on some slaves as canapés, there were indeed lifts powered by about 200 slaves. If they slacked off… you guessed it, they became Leo’s lunch the next day.

All elevators now have video cameras. Not only has that put an end to a quickie in a lift after a drunken night in the ballroom with a cheerleader, it means if you are stuck in a lift for three hours you better not need to use the bathroom before you got in. Or that subsequent video footage will no doubt find it’s way onto YouTube.

...and another thing

Elevator etiquette needs to be put on doors rather than the bland

‘Smoking in an elevator is prohibited by law’.

My rules:

  • Farting is punishable by death.
  • If you stick your arm into closing doors to interrupt a journey of those already inside, the door will in fact keep closing and then rip your offending arm off.
  • Whistling or chat up lines will open a trap door below the perpetrator.
  • Constant pushing of the close the door button will result in 1,000,000 volts being sent through the button.
  • Children who needlessly push every button will be shot at the final floor.
...and another thing

Amazing but true. As a five year old kid I was staying at Treganna Castle Hotel in St. Ives. The hotel had one of those iron shutter entrance gates and a employed operator to work the lift mechanism. This was via a huge brass lever. Somehow, I managed to jump in an unattended lift, slam the gate close and started to play at being the lift operator. I stopped at a floor and an elderly gentleman with a large cigar screwed into his mouth and his elegant wife got in.

“Young man, been doing this job long?” boomed a very distinctive voice.

I shook my head.

“Well, let’s get in some practice,” he replied with a grin.

So we ran up and down for at least half an hour, each taking a turn on the brass lever.

When we eventually stopped at the ground floor the hotel Manager was outside the lift with a face red enough to suggest imminent cardiac arrest, mouth open ready to yell at me.

He then looked at my elderly partner in crime, and literally snapped into a salute.

My father later told me when I was old enough to understand, that my partner in crime was Winston Churchill

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