Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Elevator Etiquette

There was a general rule in America when it came to waiting for an elevator: you stand a bit off to the side, so anyone ON the elevator can disembark before you get on. I remember being a child and my mother forcibly moving me to the side to let people get off the elevator, and I have seen moms do it since. I know this is the etiquette being taught in America.

I am sure, by now, you see where this is going. Greeks do not seem to have the wherewithal to realize that, especially in these teeiny Greek elevators, there is no getting on until the people on it get off. Greeks are ready to charge right on in and keep going, without even giving the person inside time to get out. It is as if the elevator itself has some sort of invisible force field, shielding all who are outside it's doors from the occupants within.

It is such a problem in Greece that I have had people actually say "thank you" to me when I am off to side and let them get out before getting in. That really shouldn't demand a thank you, that should be automatic behavior. And I have yet to see a mother restrain her little heathens from running ahead and getting inside the elevator before I get out. If I were a mother I couldn't imagine that, because in my horror I would see the children in the elevator without me without a way to get to them. I also couldn't imagine that because I was raised to push my children aside with the force of God and let people get off the elevator. But Americans are violent like that.

Still, considering, this behavior isn't surprising, what with the whole lack of thinking before you act here. But it is ironic, these little niceties, these little polite gestures I never paid much attention to until I moved here and they were nonexistent. Americans may be crude, they may be warmongers, but by God, we stand to the side and let people get off the elevator. It is the least we can do.


christina said...

Hi and thanks for visiting my blog today! I'm enjoying reading yours.

Interesting about the elevators. In Germany they do pretty much the same thing AND you're supposed to greet all the people when you get on and say goodbye when you get off while carefully avoiding eye contact at all times. Lots of fun.

Sandra said...

Same thing in Korea, with both the elevators and the subway. When the subway is crowded, exiting passengers have to push their way out with their elbows, through the incoming hordes.

hobbes said...

We have all of about 3 elevators on our very small island. No one dares to use them since we all know for a fact there are no elevator 'technicians' within an 80 mile swimming distance who could come and save you if (when) you get stuck. As a result I'm sure no one here would have the first clue about good elevator manners.

schatzli said...

oh not just lifts ever tried the busses here in athens?

Infindecimal slice said...

I think people tend to make the mistake of generalizing too much based on their experience. I have lived for 2 years in slovakia and 6 months in Japan, and I sometimes had an inclination to do the same. The face is the amount of people one meets is finite, you cant make a generalization. I live in Thessaloniki for 25 years and people always wait and move out of the way when i want to get out of the elevator.