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Avoiding Missteps on Elevators

Times Staff Writer

The doors close. You are in a small elevator with a handful of strangers and you start to feel awkward because somebody is standing too close to you and the silence gets heavier with each passing floor. What do you do?

Talk.

At least that’s the advice of Frederick Rainey, who has worked as an elevator operator for more than six years. “The important thing is to relax and enjoy the ride,” Rainey said.

While he escorts Los Angeles County Music Center patrons to their proper seat levels during big events, Rainey said, he notices a number of ways elevator riders make their trips uncomfortable. He offers these tips and a few rules of elevator etiquette for better vertical travel:

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* Don’t crowd the elevator. If there is already a small herd inside a lift, wait for the next one. Everyone will thank you for it.

* In a crowded elevator, make way for those behind you looking to get off by stepping out and getting back in when all is clear.

* Try not to face inward during an elevator ride. People, who usually face the door, become uncomfortable when a stranger stares at them longer than the time it takes to pass one floor.

* Let those in a wheelchair inside the elevator first. Getting in and out is hard enough on them without you standing in the way.

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* Avoid wearing pungent perfumes or colognes or creating any other smells that may make the already small elevator confines seem even smaller.

* Don’t stand too close to others if you can help it.

* And, lastly, if an elevator is stuck, remain calm. Elevators are equipped with emergency phones or alarms, Rainey said. “Once they know you’re stuck, they won’t forget about you. Panic makes everyone feel trapped.”


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