I wrote about this elsewhere but it really is worth repeating after my experiences today in the office.

I’m exploring cultural differences in relation to the operation of lifts with a sub-section devoted to finding seats on planes and general understanding of buttons, numbers & letters.

Take my office. After passing through security, a term loosely applied to those people who get in the way between the front door and the lifts, you are faced with three lifts. The right hand lift is admittedly a mystery even to me. It has two buttons, the lower one is a picture of someone in a wheelchair, the top one is a Zlote Tarasy logo. I’ve pressed them both and they have the same effect, no lift arrives. Moving on to the left-hand two lifts. Between them are up & down buttons a bit like this, only more obvious:


I arrive at these lifts. There is someone else standing there, let’s call them “Clueless”. The down button is already pressed. I want to go up so I press the up button. Clueless looks at me, then the lift buttons, then shifts a little uneasily. The first lift arrives, going down. If you’re lucky it will be the middle lift, which will even tell you it’s going down (why are they always female voices?). Clueless does not get in but starts shuffling around again. The first lift goes. The second lift arrives, going up. Clueless and myself get in. I press my floor number, Clueless stands there. We arrive at my floor and I get out. Clueless stays in and I see the beginnings of a worried expression, possibly confused, as the doors close.

This exact scenario happened today, five times with five different Cluelesses. In my last office, the same thing. In the office before that, even worse because the buttons were less clear. I really don’t know what else to say. I have tried making excuses for them that they live in older blocks that have no lifts, blah blah, but come on, they never visit any buildings with lifts? They don’t understand up and down arrows? Modern technology (elevators invented in 1850) frightens them?

Boarding a plane. You are given a boarding pass. On this very important document are clearly printed a number, like 18, and a letter, like C. You get on the plane. Over every row of seats are signs that have numbers, like 18, and letters, like C. So why are 25% of the people on the plane either sitting in the wrong seat already or holding everybody up because they are unable to find their seat?

You go the post office, Poczta Polska. Everybody, except me for about 3 years, knows you need to find the magic box, press A, B, C button and it gives you a ticket with a letter and a number on it, usually A947 in my case. The trick is to match the letter and the number with the same letter and number that will appear above one of the windows behind which sit the always happy postal-peeps. Everyone in the Poczta manages to do this without blinking an eye. They are so sharp at this test that they are even able to see what your letter-number is and tell you you’ve just missed your turn.

What, prey tell me, is the problem here?


8 thoughts on “Lifts

  1. …try asking ten people at random a question about neither the weather nor football but with faintly philosophical overtones. You’ll soon see I’m right.

  2. This is plagiarism! I wrote that same book years ago!

    How are you doing, Chris? I don’t visit the other place very often at all these days so I’m out of touch. Feel free to mail rather than post here.


  3. Dear Scatts,
    I had the ultimate misfortune last weekend – my hard drive went pfttt (while I was doing a back up). I now have a new computer. However, I lost my address book. Would you be so kind as to drop me a line?
    I should hear from the Doc next week as to how I am doing.
    Also, can I join the blog meet as the designated groupie or has that position been filled?

  4. According to an urban legend that you’ve surely come across before, it’s possible to ‘hijack’ an elevator by simultaneously pressing the ‘door close’ button and the number of your floor. The elevator should go directly to your choice of floor ignoring all previous selections and refusing to stop for anyone waiting on other floors. Or it might plummet to the basement in free fall.

    I suggest you true it and cause clueless and his friends to conclude that you must have godlike powers.

  5. Pingback: Not so easyJet « 20 east

  6. Pingback: Conversation with a Bankomat | Scattsblog

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