The Generation Gap, In An Elevator

I just went downstairs to get some breakfast before I start my day (yes, it’s almost 11:30 a.m., but that’s neither here nor there) and I think I just witnessed sociology at its finest.

I got on the elevator, which stopped on the third floor of my building. A bunch of older ladies – whom I’ve worked with in the past – got on. The elevator descended, stopping again, but on the second floor.

The doors opened, and a bunch of young cats – three tall, gangly guys and a petite girl, barely mid-20s – stood there. Looking. One of them kinda looked glassy-eyed and had this goofy half-smile on his face.

It was probably only about eight to 10 seconds, but it felt like an eternity. It was the longest I’d ever seen a group of people decide whether or not they wanted to board an elevator. Either the little green arrow above the elevator (signalling the direction) didn’t work, or it didn’t occur to them to look.

One of the women (who I know) said, “This elevator is going down,” which sprung the foursome into action.

I watched them while the elevator took its short voyage down to the ground level. I guessed whatever they were talking about before they boarded the elevator was the subject of conversation, because during the ride down, none of them said actual words – they just made sounds, a couple of them snickered, and one of them making a gesture, scratching the scruffy stubble under his chin.

The elevator made it to the ground floor. The doors opened. And the trio of youngsters just stood there. I remember saying in a normal tone of voice, “You can get out now – thanks,” but I think it was overshadowed by a couple other people saying, “Get out.” I shook my head at the delayed reaction as I went to the food court.

On returning, I saw the same four people. Whatever they had to do was done pretty quickly, ’cause there they were, going back towards the elevator.

Man, I thought. What would be the chances of being in the same elevator?

I was about to find out.

I was sort of behind them, so as I waited – and the elevator arrived – I heard one of them pipe up, “Oh, I hope we get some angry people on the elevator like last time,” one of them said sarcastically.

Maybe they knew I was there when we boarded. Or maybe, like the “down” arrow for the elevator the first time they boarded, they were possibly oblivious.

While the elevator doors closed and the car began its assent, one of the guy’s friends answered, “If they do, just make a Mr. Bean face,” and the first guy said to the effect of, “Yeah, just remind them they work for the Ministry of Truth for Canada,” or something like that.

Then the doors opened, and they left.

I was about to say that it must be a condition of my older age, ’cause after I encountered them the first time, I guess I couldn’t get over their delayed reaction and I was immediately making mental judgements. I wondered, how many years in age, hours spent listening to high-decibel, ear-splitting music on MP3 players, and joints smoked separates me from them? Good grief!

And then on the way back up, listening to them call the people in the elevator “angry”, that kind of annoyed me a bit. They weren’t angry in tone at all when they spoke. They wanted to leave the elevator, and that quartet of mini-hipsters just stood there like they had all the time in the world.

I guess it also speaking to our conditioning as office workers – always moving quickly, rushing around because our daily lives depend on, and are determined by, a schedule. The same schedule. Every day. All year.

So – if I were to assume the kids weren’t just being snotty after the fact – I can sort of see both sides of the coin.

Too bad either group – who have since had their snarky remarks about the other – won’t see it as such.


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