A surprising number of people, who I choose to believe are genuine, are asking on blogposts relating to Elevatorgate what to do if they (male) are waiting for an elevator with a lone female person. So I have devised some hints to help them.
1. If you are waiting for an elevator with a woman, just wait for the elevator. You don’t need to engage her in conversation. If, however, you have say forgotten your watch and don’t have another method of finding out the time handy e.g. a mobile phone, politely ask the time and thank her. Then resume waiting for the elevator.
2. When the elevator arrives you may want to let her get on first. YMMV. You may be afraid that she will rebuff you for being ‘gentlemanly’. In this instance she is Schroedinger’s nastyfem. You have no way of knowing if she will do this or not until she does/does not. You may choose not to let her go first. As long as you don’t knock her over in your attempts to enter the elevator she probably won’t care.
3. Should you get onto the elevator when it is just her? Yes. If you are standing near the buttons you might even ask her which floor. If she is standing near the buttons you might even request that she push the button for your floor.
4. Now, you are on the elevator together. Just the two of you. So, you stand there and watch the numbers together. The elevator stops, and one or both of you gets out, someone else gets in, or it’s one of those annoying stops where nobody is there and no one has hit the button for that floor. You may share a ‘huh, elevators what you going to do’ glance with each other. You may not. If you try this and she doesn’t respond, don’t be concerned. Maybe she’s not in the mood, maybe she’s thinking about the meeting she has to go to. Maybe she’s wondering if she should try the new sandwich place for lunch. Maybe she is tired and looking forward to getting some sleep. Maybe she doesn’t want to talk to strangers in the elevator. Maybe it has nothing to do with you at all.
5. The elevator stops. It’s your floor. As you leave you might wish her a good day, a good evening, or you may say nothing. She may be relieved that you have gotten off the elevator. She may not notice. She may regret that she didn’t start up a conversation with that nice looking man. She may be relieved that she wasn’t hit on, or worse. Whatever she feels, rest assured that you did everything you could to help her feel at ease. You may regret that you didn’t start a conversation with her. Life is full of little regrets like that. If you catch the lift together all the time, it might be worth trying to strike up a conversation one day. But if you are just two random strangers there is probably a better than equal chance you will just stress her out. You are a nice person, you don’t want to stress people. So don’t. Just accept that many women find it stressful being in a confined space with an unknown male. It’s not fair to you. But she doesn’t know you. She has no way of knowing how you will react until you do/don’t do it. But she knows that if you were to do something to her, she would be blamed for being there in the first place and putting herself in that situation.
We aren’t expecting you to wait 20 minutes for an elevator that has no women in it. All that we ask is that you don’t treat elevators as a great place to pick up women, especially women who have just spent the past day telling you why you shouldn’t approach women like that. Just respect their personal space.
Now I have also seen it mentioned that Elevator Dude was a shy guy not wanting to be shot down in front of heaps of people at the bar. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he by chance was catching the elevator at the same time, not that he waited for her to leave the function – because waiting is definitely going well into creepy territory. So he’s a shy dude who just happens to be in the elevator at the same time. So maybe he goes against my advice and says something to her. He could have said “Saw your presentation today, it was really thought provoking’. She might have said ‘thanks’. Then silence. Okay shy Elevator Dude, this is the signal that she is not interested, too tired, not getting into this now. You’ve had your go, she’s politely responded. Game over. This is where you respect her boundaries and leave it. The gamble didn’t pay off. Suck it up and go to bed, alone.