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Elevator Ethnography: My 2 Hours Spent In An Elevator.

967 words - 4 pages

Why would anyone want to confine themselves in a small room, with four to five perfect strangers, for a duration of about 20 seconds, and why would they want to do this multiple times in a given day? I don't know, have you ever ridden an elevator before?So you're standing on the first floor in Millet Hall at Wright State University, you push a button and a metal door opens to reveal a 5' by 7' room. You step in and the door closes, they open again and you exit. You look around at your new surroundings as you perceive a totally different floor than the one you just left, this all happened in less than 20 seconds. But what happened during those 20 seconds in that small room, can anything be learned about yourself or about others?First off, what do people do in an elevator? Well, they check their watch, look through their purse, fiddle in their pockets, whistle a short tune or they gaze and glance. Oh my, how they all gaze and glance. And the beep, ah yes, one cannot forget the beep. Every floor that is passed there is a beep; and that beep comes from the small light display in the upper left hand corner of the elevator. For every floor that goes by, that small light changes to a different number and it beeps. Elevator riders don't know it, but they love that beep. It is that very beep that saves them in their absolute moment of awkwardness, they hear that beep and they gaze at those numbers. They gaze so hard it hurts, and in their minds they wish that this elevator would just hurry up and get them to their destination, so they can just get on with their lives.Riders of the elevator both hate and love that numbered light display. They love it because it gives them something to stare at, other than each other, and that light display also prevents awkward glances between the other elevator passengers. But at the same time, they hate that light display because for them it changes too slowly and is accompanied by that horrible little beep. For the elevator rider the journey between floors is an eternity, an eternity with a group of strangers in a 5' by 7' room with an annoying beeper in the corner. But had one of these elevator riders glanced in the corner behind them they would have seen an English ethnography student with a stopwatch, and they could learn right then that this elevator ride would only last for 20 seconds.The ride continues and the door opens to pick up someone else. All the current elevator riders take their gaze off the numbered light display to give the new guy a quick glance. In silence the new rider will take his place with his back against the wall, just like everyone before him, and than he will begin to...

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