Whether it’s going to the office or paying a visit to the doctor; all of us have probably spent time on an elevator in the past week. As a student of human nature, I cannot help but see this roughly forty-foot square cubicle as a scaled-down model of our everyday lives! The interaction that takes place while waiting for the car to arrive, our actions while we are temporarily imprisoned with our fellow riders, and our behavior as we all get off; this points glaringly to who we are as individuals!
There is a group of people huddled in front of the elevator bank. Both the up and the down request buttons are fully illuminated. Obviously, somebody has already requested the cars. Yet in never fails that a harried person will rush up and push the lit buttons again! Did they not understand that the request had already been made? Did they think that they somehow possessed a special touch that would make the car arrive sooner? Or were they totally oblivious to those around them?
How often do we not trust the actions of others? How often do we presume that our way is the only way? Are you willing to put your fate into the hands of another or must you always be in control of everything around you? As you learn to put faith in others, and are willing to trust those things done on your behalf; the world takes on a gentler tone!
Once on the elevator, there may be a kind soul who asks, “what floor?” On occasion, people will call out numbers and the good Samaritan will push the respective buttons. Yet there is always somebody onboard, usually at the back of a capacity-filled load, that will push others aside so that they can push their own button! Do they not trust that another person will get the right button pushed? Is there some horrible secret or some unfathomable shame associated with the floor they are going to?
In the course of our everyday lives, it is unavoidable that we must let others act on our wishes. As you trust others, more often than not they will exceed your expectations. There comes a time where each of us must say that it is okay to take a risk and that we are secure in putting our fate in the hands of a stranger.
Once the elevator has begun to move; it is time for my favorite game; people watching. All of the inhabitants in this now vertically moving box will do everything in their power to avoid eye contact. Some will watch the numbers lighting up at the top of the cabin. Others will look down at their shoes, oblivious to the fact that they are in a confined space with fourteen others. Then there are those people who will open their binder and stare at a blank page, rather than engage you in conversation.
Every day of our lives we are given the wonderful opportunity to connect with other fellow human beings. Yet how often do we avoid eye contact? How often do we ignore a smile from a stranger? Once we open ourselves to the possibility that a newfound friend might be made through a simple greeting; the world is filled with limitless possibility.
The elevator finally reaches the lobby level. It is a mad rush of humanity to see who can get off first! In the meantime, at least one individual who has been waiting for the elevator to arrive tries to get on before anybody has exited. It is like watching a salmon try to swim upstream! The only problem is that a group of people, who also have been avoiding engaging with anybody around them, follow him blindly onto the elevator! The result is a demolition derby of human flesh!
Are you so self-absorbed as to think that you must come before all others? Do you blindly follow those around you with no thought as to where they are taking you? Have you built so many walls around yourself that you make a habit of ignoring people around you? Or are you open to the idea that every individual is worthy of special consideration?
Existence is something that all of us undergo each day. We have no real choice! Life happens when you open yourself up to possibility, when you take chances, when you trust those around you, and when you set the good of others ahead of your own! The elevator is a boiled down version of the choices that you make everyday!
What about me you might ask? I am the guy who gets on, waits for the doors to close, turns around to face the back of the elevator, makes eye contact with you, and asks you how you are doing!