I work in an old New York City building. We have a single elevator servicing seven floors and a roof playground. And we are not the building’s only tenants. In addition to the six classrooms of nursery school-aged children, there are also offices for other organizations under our parent group, two facilities providing services to seniors, an after school program, and a small theater. It is a busy place!
As a result, the elevator is a busy and crowded place. It is large enough to hold one entire classroom’s worth of kids/teachers and maybe a few other adults. So what I’ve seen happen is people getting into an elevator going the “wrong” direction, to secure a spot for when it eventually heads the other way.
This might be a little difficult to visualize, especially if you don’t frequently use elevators or have never been in a single-elevator building.
Imagine someone standing on the fourth floor who wants to go up to the 6th floor. 1 He pushes the up button, but every time the elevator arrives, it is full of children from the second and third floors and he has to let it pass. So instead he pushes the down button, and catches a returning elevator. The elevator picks him up on four, and heads down to the crowded lobby to pick up others. But now there is one less spot in the elevator. The man does not get off at the bottom floor. He then rides the elevator back up to the sixth floor.
I’ve never regularly frequented a single-elevator building, so the etiquette of this situation is unclear to me. In a building that has a bank of elevators, there is very rarely a need for such behavior. But in a building such as ours, it is common. In fact, I’ve seen elevators arrive at the first floor so full of people going up that no new riders can get on. To me, this seems like a breach of etiquette. Waiting on your floor and taking the elevator in the direction you are headed feels “right”; anything else feels “wrong”. But that could leave someone stranded for long periods as several full elevators pass.
So I’m curious what the folks here think. I am not very confident in my position. It is more gut feel than any real principled argument. How do you think such situations ought to be handled? Assuming that the constraints of the situation will remain as they are (e.g., no building a new elevator or moving to a horizontally arranged building or hiring an elevator attendant)… what should the elevator etiquette be for single-elevator buildings?
Image by robinsonsmay