Ibroke the tacit rule of standing the opposite way in an elevator, facing thecrowd of people. When people get into an elevator, the normal way to standwould be facing the doors. That’s just the norm. Or if your standing with yourfriends or family maybe you’ll face them if you want to talk to them, but thesocial norm is to face the front of the elevator.
When I was thinking of doing this, I imagined it being veryuncomfortable and awkward. People would probably avoid eye contact with me, andI would them, or some might give me a weird look. Maybe someone would even saysomething to me. I can imagine someone asking me why I was standing towardthem, or why I was looking at them. Thankfully, I had a better reaction thanplanned.
I was with my friend Savannah and Itold her what I was planning on doing prior to entering the elevator. When Igot on the elevator, I stood in front of the buttons facing the five othersthat got on the elevator with me and my friend. I giggled uncomfortably whilelooking at the other people that occupied the elevator. Nobody made eye contactwith me, which is what I thought would happen.
Two people got off the elevatorso I took that opportunity to move and stand in front of the elevator doorsfacing the people. This would be more noticeably different. My friend stood inthe corner laughing to herself while I tried to stay composed. One man lookedat his shoes, another man watched the numbers rise as we went up the floors,and the woman standing directly in front of me smiled then looked at my friend.Nobody seemed uncomfortable and weirded out by the fact that I was facing them.
I began to feel a little uncomfortable so I started laughing (because that’show I cope with feelings of embarrassment). The woman standing in front of measked me what I was laughing at because she wanted to laugh too. I just repliedwith, oh nothing.
The doors opened and I moved aside to let everyone off theelevator. The woman told me to have a good day and I said you too. What I thought would be a veryuncomfortable situation was not as bad as I imagined. Maybe things would bedifferent if I were in an office building elevator that had more people in it,but I was in an apartment building elevator and it just seemed casual.
Also, ifI were by myself maybe it would have been different. I want to do it again justout of sheer curiosity of how people would react. It’s a known social norm to standfacing the front of the elevator, not to the passengers, as it’s known not topush all the buttons or act obnoxious or stand too close to someone if there’sspace. We as people generally like to fit in, to blend into the crowd. We alsodon’t like to make others or ourselves uncomfortable, that’s why we follow thisunspoken list of rules of how to behave. Cultural/social norms make life easierand more comfortable.
Of course, there are people who don’t follow a lot ofsocial norms, like artists. I think they benefit from being rule breakers anddoing things that are considered “abnormal.” Of course, there could be repercussionsto breaking social norms, so if you do so, you must be prepared to deal withthe possible negative reactions.
So, we will continue to follow these rules ifwe want to be considered “normal” and stay comfortable.