Several weeks ago, I was exiting the building after a long day when the elevator stopped on the first floor. A group of interns and one staffer (young, probably a Staff Assistant) entered the elevator talking loudly and packing the car like we were engaged in a game of phone booth stuffing. And then, they did the unthinkable, they pushed the button for the basement.
These a$$h***s were going down one floor. They had waited for this elevator for several minutes and wedged themselves into the car like sardines all to descend one freaking floor?!?!?
The paid staff exchanged knowing looks. We didn’t know one another, but in this moment, we were bonded by our seething hatred for the sloth and the lack of consideration for the yellow badge holders.
When the doors opened at the basement level, most of the group exited, but one preppy-looking intern stayed behind to ride down to the exit floor. Not wanting to end his conversation with his friends, he proceeded to hold the door open so that they could continue talking.
Seconds passed. They felt like days.
The doors signaled their displeasure with a loud and annoying beep. He was unfazed.
Finally, a staffer standing behind me cleared his throat so loudly that even I jumped a bit.
Instead of realizing that he was holding up a car full of other people who wanted nothing more than to head home in a timely manner and letting go of the door. The intern turned around and said, “No, I don’t care that you’re in a hurry.”
I almost shoved him out the door in a fit of rage. However, I contained my furious urge to inflict bodily harm upon him and exited the elevator in favor of the stairs.
When you work in a building where the primary mode of transportation is the elevator, having a good grasp of elevator etiquette is critical to maintaining efficiency and civility. Here are some tips on elevator etiquette:
Use the stairs for short trips. If you are only going up one floor or down one floor, unless you physically cannot do so, just use the stairs. They’re usually within a few steps of the elevator and it’s good exercise.
If the elevator is full, don’t try to squeeze onto it. The elevators in the House actually say, “This elevator is full please exit,” when they reach a certain weight limit. But this isn’t just a safety concern, it’s simple manners. Who wants to be wedged into an elevator between a half-dozen sweating staffers? Either wait for another elevator or refer to rule one.
Don’t block the doors. I hate nothing more than when people hold the door open to finish a conversation with someone not on the elevator. I might be in a rush. Someone else on the elevator might be in a rush. If you want to chat, step off the elevator and wait for another.
Be courteous. The doors on the House elevators are timed to close very quickly. If you see someone walking toward the door and they are reasonably close to the elevator, feel free to hold the door for just a moment. I allow this one exception to rule three only because when you are looking at someone standing in an elevator, and you’re just a couple of feet away, nothing is more upsetting than when they let those doors close in your face. That’s just basic manners.
Be aware of eager ears. The things I’ve heard in Capitol elevators would make your toes curl. From details about staffers sex lives to comments about Members that should never be said in mixed company to semi-confidential policy items, it seems that some staffers think the elevator is some kind of cone of silence. It’s not. If you don’t want anyone to hear what you are saying, ride alone. If you can’t, keep your trap shut.
Welcome to steerage, Congressman. Members have their own designated elevators. These elevators are reserved just for them so that they can get to votes, meetings and events in a timely manner. And I have no problem setting aside a car or two for the men and women with the Member pins. However, some Members aren’t happy with that.
On more than one occasion, I have seen an elected official clear a full elevator because he or she wants to ride alone. Now, I’m not going to name names, but if you’re Boss has ever done this in your presence, I would encourage you to encourage him or her to stop. Staffers never forget this kind of behavior, and eventually someone is going to call Heard on the Hill.