Follow elevator etiquette in times of COVID-19
October 5, 2020
So you’ve made it. Six months of being in quarantine with your nagging parents are finally over, and freedom comes in the form of a fancy campus-town apartment. But this newfound freedom comes with a steep price beyond the rent: You live on the highest floor, so now you need to choose between the absolutely preposterous choice of taking the stairs or the social-distance-proof elevator. You make the same choice anybody would, the one that takes the least amount of work and physical activity as possible. The elevator door opens and reveals a beautiful sight: emptiness. You scurry into the elevator and smash that close-door button like your life depends on it. Just before the relief of successfully avoiding social interaction, a hand stops the elevator door. Boom. You are now burdened with breathing somebody else’s air. What do you do now that you’ve gotten yourself into this hellish situation? How are you going to survive the rest of the semester potentially sharing an elevator with somebody returning from Joe’s happy hour, hands unwashed? Luckily, I have formulated the first Champaign-Urbana guide to proper elevator etiquette for these strange times.
Wear a mask
You may not have realized, but everybody’s doing it. Even if you’re one of those people who feel like your rights are being infringed by wearing a mask, trust me: This is the one place you really want to be cautious.
It’s every man for themselves
Darwin’s survival of the fittest concept still dictates our modern lives. A germ-free elevator will be rewarded to those who work hardest for it. You must be cunning enough in your strike of the close-door button, but also convincing enough in your “attempt” to keep the door open for a fellow mask-wearer.
Whatever you do, don’t touch those buttons.
Whether you use your knuckles, toes or rubber gloves; you must avoid direct contact between your pristine fingers and these potentially contaminated buttons. Sure, you could sanitize your hands after getting back to your apartment, but do you really trust yourself abstaining from using your phone (and thereby contaminating it) the rest of the transit to your room? Let’s be real: Using your toes is much more plausible.
Save the test results for your McKinley Portal
You may be thinking to yourself all these precautions are a little dramatic, but don’t be naïve to just how horrible certain elevator experiences can be. During my first time in the elevator at my new apartment, I overheard a lady talk on the phone about how her recent exposure to somebody with the virus was “all good” because the carrier was asymptomatic. After bathing myself in hand sanitizer following this experience, I am thankful to be alive to tell this tale. In general, the elevator shouldn’t be a place to air your dirty laundry, but this holds especially true when you’re putting other lives at risk.
If you need to talk, talk about the weather.
Although experts advise avoiding conversations in an elevator altogether, sometimes small talk is just straight-up unavoidable. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age in which most conversation topics lead to offense and controversy. To avoid any potential social conflict with your elevator peer, the best route is to talk about the most agreeable topic known to man: the weather. Rain is bad. Sun is good. You must always keep yourself updated on the weather if you want to agree with the common man and walk out of the elevator looking agreeable and unscathed.
We’re all in the same boat here as we try to live our lives as normal as possible despite the regulations regarding the current pandemic. Refer back to these tips to avoid being that person in the elevator. When you do, you won’t be the reason that forces others to endure that one long walk up the stairs.
Matthew is a senior in LAS