The average software engineer works on the 3rd floor. Yes, like 87% of all facts in the world, this one is made up too. When the average software engineer goes to work every morning and comes back every evening, he experiences a life of ups and downs. In other words, he takes the elevator.
This elevator is a wonderful invention, really. It takes you up and then down, all on the click of a button. When buildings rise, elevators become paramount. Imagine climbing a seven storey building. Ok, dont. You get the point. Well, this elevator ride leads itself to some wonderful insight into life.
I work on the sixth floor, incidentally, the highest one in my building. I have had the chance to observe people on the elevator and have been absolutely fascinated by the results. Here, I chronicle some of my findings:
The Liftman: This particular species acts as the lift operator in the absence of a real lift operator. Since a lot of companies do not have a designated lift operator, he is THE ONE. He is the one who closely guards the control panel of the mother-ship and takes implicit charge of the buttons on the panel. He herds his flock into the lift, looks around expectantly to see if anyone stuck in the crowd has missed pressing the button they need to and does the needful. He also is in charge of the fan switch. He puts the fan on if he deems fit to and if the lift-man is environmentally conscious, he does what is best for the Earth. He figures that people can go without the comforts of a fan for a couple of minutes and hence does not turn it on. In case of the unlikely event of a break-down, the lift-man takes moral responsibility and tenders his resignation to the board of directors. These are very rare and are generally confined to one per elevator.
The Wall Hugger: This species is a remnant of the Chipko movement. He has a single-point agenda in his mind when he enters the elevator is to "SEIZE THE WALL". The wall of choice is generally the back wall but in case of unavailability, he settles for the sides. His modus operandi involves search for a space that is close to the walls of the elevator. He darts in,pushes people off along the way, gets his place, and then apologizes for the inconvenience caused. One reason could also be that they are purely too lazy to stand without support for the 2 minute elevator ride. This class of the species do not mind not getting the wall but given a choice, would want to lean against it.
The One-floorer: This species has a very peculiar body structure. All their bones are lazy bones. They can’t be arsed to climb up one flight of stairs. They must, and I repeat, must use the elevator. They prefer to wait in the lobby for a whole 5 minutes for the elevator to come even if they have to go down by one floor. Clearly, time is not of essence for these folks. Not only does it lead to a lot of uneasiness and general irritation among the co-passengers, it also creates a topic of discussion after the aforementioned person leaves.
The button pusher: Short as they are of time, they feel that somehow by repeatedly pushing the buttons, they would be able to convince the binary logic of the processing unit of the elevator of their urgency to board and deboard the elevator. heaven forbid if they have to wait an extra second in or waiting for the elevator. Often, the buttons that most incur their wrath are the ‘close door’ and 'Lift call' buttons. Somehow, he feels that one simple press of the button does not do the trick and hence carries on pressing the button until the door actually closes. Satisfied with his handiwork, he looks at the elevator condescendingly and smirks. The frequency of the button presses varies with his mood. The unit generally employed to measure his level of irritation is Presses Per Second or PPS. The PPS levels range from 2 (mildly irritated) to 274 (extremely agitated, possibly homicidal).
The phone folk: These are the technology-savvy lot. The moment they get into an elevator, an invisible switch flips in their head and out pops the phone. Now, this phone could be the most basic of phones, say a Nokia 1100 or an extremely high-end-12 megapixel-HD touch screen-2GHZ dual core processor-1GB RAM one. Whatever the phone may be, the purpose it serves is the same. In the hands of the phone folk in an elevator, a cell phone is nothing much more than a glorified clock. Research shows that more than 90% of the time, the singular usage of the phone on the elevator is to look at the time. The other 10% is to wipe the phone clean. Never mind that it was resting peacefully in the pocket where there was no dust that gathered. It must be given a wipe-down. This is the law of the elevator for these folk.
Research also points out that more than 90% of the phone folk who whip out their phones to look at the time wear a watch. Turning the wrist to point toward your face is deemed to be more tiring and effort-taking than reaching into the pocket, turning on the phone, unlocking it and then looking at the time. These phone folk are also affected by peer pressure. They see a person wielding a phone and in their minds, they are possessed. ‘Thou shalt look at your phone’, dictates the dictum.
A sub-species of the phone folk are the Blackberry boys. These are the “official” folk who, somehow, must take out their blackberry from their hip holster and wield it. They must do it. They just must. For the sake of mankind. They will get no new email or message. Yet, for posterity sake, they must clutch the berry. They will re-read mails, they will delete mails, they may even mark mails as unread but they will do something. There is a sense of outcast-ness, really, in the blackberry boys. They consider themselves superior to the other phone-folk, simply because they possess the berry. In turn, the other folk ostracize them and tend to flock and socialize amongst themselves before interacting with the berry boys. The feature that sets all phone folk out (berries or no berries) from the rest of the elevator people is their utter ridiculousness. After all, more often than not, there is no network coverage in the elevator, rendering their main weapon, the phone useless for the purpose that its name suggests.
The courtesy people and the last minuters: The courtesy people and the last minuters form a deadly duo. One that can be quite annoying and more importantly, disastrous, if you are looking at getting to work on time. The first half of this duo, the courtesy people are those wonderful, good-hearted human beings who are very very nice. They are, in fact, so nice that they end up pissing you off. They get into the elevator, look to see if the button of the floor they want to go to is pressed, if it is not, presses it but unlike the other elevator folk does not return to his base station. No. Not these folk. They take the role of the good Samaritan to a whole new level. He positions himself so that he gets a clear view of the lobby outside the door and waits, all the while making sure that he is within touching distance of the ‘open door’ button. He waits. And waits. And waits until the door begins to close. It is at this point in time that he springs into action. His senses get heightened and his spidey-sense kicks in. He looks to see if someone is trying to reach the elevator just as the door closes. If he senses that there is indeed some such person, he displays wonderfully quick reactions and makes sure that he presses the button and opens the door for the late-comer. In extreme cases, they put life and limb on the line by hurling themselves or their their body parts (usually their arms) at the closing door and ensuring that it doesn’t close.
The other half of the deadly duo: The last minuter. This person is just like that guy in the disaster movie who is the last man off the sinking ship or the last to escape a burning building, who almost makes it but inevitably ends up dying. Unlike that chap in the movie, however, this guy has a secret weapon to avoid death. His partner in crime: The courtesy guy. The last minuter has this super-power: to be just on time. Well, in actual fact, he is late for the elevator but somehow, the courtesy guy makes sure that the last minuter is on time. In elevator parlance, the time of reference is the time the elevator door starts to close but for this dynamic duo, the time of reference is the time that they can no longer see that last sliver of light as the elevator door completely closes. Chances are that, when the pair of them operate in tandem, you are going to have to spend a few extra moments in the elevator.
The Look-downers: This peculiar species are great admirers of Sir Isaac Newton. They worship gravity. As soon as they get into the elevator, they take a quick look to see if the button for their floor is pressed (if it is not, they do the needful), take up their station in the elevator and then perform the only item in their single point agenda : Look down. It’s not like they are shy; some of them genuinely are but then they are only acting in accordance with the gravity balancing theory. The gravity balancing theory is the theory by which the look-downers maintain the gravity-balance of the elevator. On the upward going elevator, looking down balances the entire anti-gravity act of going up. Whereas, on the downward traveling elevator, the act of looking down merely augments the gravitational effect of Earth and keeps the Gods happy. Well, this is the belief of the look downers anyway. These folk are easily the least controversial and most often ignored of all the species.
Yet another variant of this species are the poor folks who end up feeling so awkward in the elevator that all they can do is stare at the numbers on display, pass by till their destination arrives.
Well, there you have it; a few of the elevator folk that you’re likely to encounter in the life of ups and downs. So the next time you’re in an elevator, look out for these species and yes, Bon Voyage!!!