culture shock

You know the rules in elevators. You get in, you push the button, you turn and face the front, you watch the numbers. There is no eye contact. There is no chit-chat.

In Germany, they have DIFFERENT RULES. You say hello to the strangers – STRANGERS! – when you get on the elevator. You say goodbye when you get off. Sometimes you even face the middle of the elevator instead of the door.

The elevator at work is pretty much the most confusing social encounter of my day. Do I really have to say “bye” when I get off at the 12th floor? Please, let the people on this elevator all work on lower floors so they leave before me and I don’t have to initiate any greetings.

And it’s not just because we all work at the same company – I stayed in a hotel for three days in August and other guests said hello when they got on the elevator down to breakfast.

Is this true in other parts of the world? I don’t remember people being chatty in elevators in Japan. The main thing I remember about elevators in Japan was that in the elevator in the building where my dad worked, the door took forever to close if you didn’t push the close door button, so elevator etiquette was to push the button as you left the elevator. The area around that one button was totally worn from all the fingers.

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