I’m on elevators quite a bit in a wide variety of buildings. From the 50 story downtown skyscraper (by Denver standards) to the 3 story building in a suburban office park. From Hospitals to high-rise condos in SWPL central.
I have found that one of the most interesting places to observe male/female relations is in and around an elevator. It is a rich environment to view the brief interactions of empowered career women, lowly proles, cube dwelling betas, high powered alphas and White Knights of all stripes. The colliding of one generation with another is often on display and worth noticing. I’ve ridden in elevators with people of all ages, ethnicities and socio economic status. One standard that seems to apply in all situations, no matter where I am, is female entitlement uber alles. I am always amazed at how universal it is.
Women of any age or station get on first and get off first. This anachronism has managed to thrive in the new girl order of empowered, equality minded career women. Of all the trivial double standards I see between the sexes, this is one I notice frequently, and probably irritates me most, depending on the circumstance.
It is also an unwritten rule that I don’t put any effort in “fighting” myself. Number one, it is trivial. In fact, it could just be a pet peeve of mine that others don’t notice as much. Two, if I tried to get on an elevator before a member of the fairer sex, I would probably be trampled to death or subtly shamed by an older, chivalrous White Knight. Three, I have a rule of not shitting where I eat. This applies to all of my other “right wing extremist” views.
If one were to view my behavior in or around an elevator they would think I was a perfect, well mannered gentleman. I’ve even been complimented by older women on my good manners before. Little do they know. Makes me feel like Eddie Haskell in front of Ward and June Cleaver. I often wonder if other males, especially men around my age, are thinking some of the same thoughts I am in this environment.
Usually, my irritation or contempt isn’t personal, but from an interaction that has nothing to do with me. I routinely see young twentysomething career women (cube dwellers) egregiously butt in front of nine dollar an hour, 60 year old, Mexican janitors. Ive seen 45 year old hausfraus, wearing to much make up and perfume, rudely jump ahead of UPS guys holding 50 pound boxes.
Let me take you through a few of the more common scenarios in the elevator dance. Picture a 50 story building in Downtown Denver. A place that houses professions and people of all types. Big law firms, accounting offices and companies that extract natural resources are the norm. A place where janitors, maintenance men, and mail room employees work along side the higher status folk. Visualize a bank of 8 elevators in a lobby. Using this set, here are a few things that I routinely notice or experience.
Waiting on the ground floor for an elevator to open up…
A. If waiting with a man or a group of men, the man or men closest to the elevator get on first. If both men are of equal distance, then deference usually goes to who had been waiting the longest. Sometimes a bit of eye contact or subtle body language is used to sort things out. Ain’t that a novel concept? The downside is that no one gets to feel pampered or important.
This happens in 99% of cases in this scenario. Elderly or handicapped men will be deferred to. Men usually hold a door open for the aforementioned janitor or UPS guy. Status is generally irrelevant as well. High powered lawyers and lowly bike messengers follow this protocol. I’ve been on an elevator with well known attorneys, businessmen and politicians and the pattern holds. The occasional prick that butts in is viewed as….well, a prick.
B. If waiting with a woman or a group of women, you better be a foot away from the open elevator because she/they will stampede across your mangled corpse before they give up this privilege. Unless the closest women is 15 feet away, I usually defer and slowly get on last.
Status is irrelevant in this scenario as well. Young, abrasive, uncouth, loud and proud, fat heifers will assume the honor of older, distinguished, middle aged men in suits. They get it too. The trashiest of behavior is no obstacle in achieving special treatment.
The double standard is most egregious when a guy has been waiting for an elevator, and just as one opens up, a stream of chatty kathys come around the corner and stream into the elevator right in front of him, cutting off his path. Unless he is a big-shot or happens to work in the same office, he is completely ignored. No acknowledgement in the least for his deferential treatment.
A few other things that are common on the ground floor…
I can’t count how many times women will see the light come on to indicate an arriving elevator and immediately walk right in front of it, waiting for the door to open. They are oblivious to the fact that there are probably people getting off.
As a man, if you happen to be close to the arriving elevator, and the closest women is 30 feet away, you will feel her breathing down your neck as passengers exit. She will not wait at a respectable distance. My advice, if you are not feeling particularly chivalrous, is to avoid eye contact. Any sign of acknowledging her existence will result in her butting right in.
Exiting an elevator….
A. As with getting on, men will get off in the same manner. Simple.
B. I know this might come as a shock, but women like to get off first as well. In the cramped quarters of an elevator this is easier said than done.
Think of the difficulty in letting women on first, especially in a crowded environment, and then letting them get off first. This is not rocket science. If they got on first that means they are in the back of the elevator when its time to get off. Many times, on the way up, a group of people all get off on the same floor. On the way down, women are co-mingled throughout the elevator depending on what floors it stopped on. It would be nice to have an even flow, exiting the elevator, without worry of violating some archaic, outdated standard.
In my personal experience…
When riding with one or two women, she/they always get off first. I can’t recall a time in my 1000s? of elevator rides where a woman motioned me to get off before her. I like to find space in the back of the elevator to make the “tradition” even easier to navigate.
The crowded elevator of 5 or more is a bit tricky. In this scenario I either like to have my nose practically pressed up against the doors, or be completely in the back. The former allows me to exit the elevator first, without any subtle shaming, and the latter takes the guesswork out of it.
The worst position to be in is close to the door, but off to side by the buttons, with 2 or 3 women of varying distances, mixed in with other men behind me. Sometimes I will just stand there and wait for everyone to exit. Other times I will step out of the elevator but hold the door open as the princesses get off.
White Knights can muck everything up. Even when they are practically falling out of the elevator when the doors open up, they still manage to contort their bodies, often pressing their asses into me, to allow the ladies to squeeze by them. Usually they are older, 50+ guys. I fantasize about pushing their chivalrous ass out of my personal space and berating them for their naive stupidity. Of course I never say a peep.
I get irritated when I let 2 or 3 women off first, only to have to slowly walk behind them, all the way to the building’s exit. They meander, 2 or 3 abreast, gossiping, and leave no room to pass. It never occurs to them to let me off first, knowing they are in no hurry to get anywhere.
Some other observations….
A group of women are ruder than a single woman. Single women will occasionally show a bit of thanks for a mans deference. The herd will be oblivious to his outdated elevator etiquette. Perhaps they are subtly competing for princess status so any gesture of gratitude would somehow diminish them in front of their peers.
A group of men are more polite then a single man. The code of elevator chivalry is less likely to be broken by a group of men than by a singular lone wolf. Like other aspects of gender inequality, it’s the men who hold on to the outdated traditions the most.
A group of men will generally lower their voice or shut down their conversation completely when getting on an elevator. Women, not so much. You will be forced to endure every mundane detail of their shitty office job on the ride in the 5ft X 6ft box. Gossip about co workers and drivel about husbands and children are par for the course.
I have found women in their mid to late thirties to be the worst of the entitled elevator goddesses. It doesn’t matter if they are human resources drones, upper management, lawyer or secretary. They would think nothing of throwing me down an elevator shaft if it meant keeping their rightful place on the gender food chain. Many are rude, smell of cigarette smoke, are 50 pounds overweight and have a hairdo that went out of style in 1989.
The aging woman that looks like a cougar is especially bad, and a subset of the previous category. She struts out of the elevator like a runway model. I suppose she is just in a hurry to get to the club and show those young guys a “real” woman.
In my experience the least entitled are black women. Not sure why this is. They aren’t any better in a group, but a singular black woman is more likely to acknowledge my “good” behavior than women of other races. Keep in mind these are elevators in office buildings not in housing projects.
Warpigs are just as entitled, if not more so. I’ve had 300 pound Hippos practically run me over to “beat me” onto the elevator.
Speaking of beating me, I sometimes think women view it as some sort of competition. I’ll see a lady hurry on to an elevator only to move like molasses once she exits. Is privilege preservation really that important? Is it a subconscious thing? I don’t know.
Pretty young things keep the tradition going but don’t seem to have the eagerness about it the way the older gals do. Occasionally I will see them defer to an elderly guy or someone carrying something heavy.
Ugly young things seem to behave in a manner closer to their older 30 something sisters.
Old women, say 65+, will always exit first, but seem to do it in a more respectful and grateful fashion. I really can’t put my finger on it. The older they are, the more this tendency is apparent.
I am most annoyed when the elevator opens and in front of me is some worn down career woman impeding my exit. Usually she will move out of the way, but occasionally, she will awkwardly butt in to the elevator before i can exit. Once in awhile I will get the deer in the headlights look.
I think elevator entitlement is still strongly entrenched in our culture, but may be changing just a bit. The younger guys, say under 40, don’t seem as enthused about the whole charade as the older guys are. Most go along with it, like an automatron, but aren’t as likely to make a big display about it.
Why a $100,000 a year, 40 year old lawyer, who happens to be female, should automatically get off of an elevator before the guy that works in the mail room is beyond me. The mail room guy suffers the indignity of being ignored completely by the women he works with. Is it really necessary for him to be completely meek and deferential as well? I wonder what George Sodini’s elevator etiquette was like.
Occasionally I will see a guy, usually under 25, completely disregard traditional norms and shoot out of the elevator first. I’ve seen women visibly irritated by this show of equality too. I suspect the perpetrators of such callous and aggressive acts are unaware of their sin, rather than trying to make any sort of statement.
The last few observations would be keeping in pattern with some of Whiskey’s theories about changing cultural norms and the way men will slowly come to treat women.
I’ll give my usual disclaimer about exceptions to the rule and all the rest. In this case, in my experience, there are very few. Perhaps, others have a different take. This is simply one mans observations and opinions.