Life is fairly teeming with embarrassing, uncomfortable situations. Those of us who are utterly bereft of social graces, and I know I’m not the only one, need a handbook for these unwelcome occasions. There has to be a more graceful response than blushing a brilliant red from collarbone to hairline. So, until there’s a proper guidebook to tell us what it is, I’m using The Elevator Code and you can, too. In other words: maintain a comfortable distance, keep your eyes straight ahead, be quiet.
First Day of Prison — meeting a cellmate is tricky, you can’t afford a rookie mistake. Just follow the code: shut up, stay out of the way, avoid eye contact. Don’t offer a breath mint or a fist to bump. Small talk and friendly gestures lead to the prison infirmary. That’s Prison Manners 101.
Locker Rooms and Urinals — a less punishing environment than the above, but risky nonetheless. Naked, exposed adults can misinterpret wandering, roving eyes. Keep yours averted, this is not a venue for browsing. Or smiling. Do what you need to, but don’t enjoy it and don’t linger.
Airplanes — a quick review of your seatmate decides how strictly to apply the code: Do odors emanate? Is he reading True Conspiracies? Any discernible nose whistling? If you feel sociable and that sausage smell doesn’t bother you, chat ‘til landing. If nut jobs set you on edge, activate the code.
Chance Encounters — spotting your neighbor at a clandestine dinner with someone other than the spouse is a shock. Don’t stare or cringe, just look away, study the menu or your shoes. If eye contact occurs, smile politely at the nice strangers and ask for your check. Leave. You can eat later.
There, see how easy it is? Since I’ve adopted The Elevator Code I don’t hear things like oaf, dolt, and lout as often. And neither will you. Use the code in good health, my fellow befuddled friends, and relax. You are now armed with social skills. Of a sort.
Copyright © Publikworks 2011.