How to… use a lift
As featured in the Book entitled Never Push When It Says Pull: Small Rules for Little Problems
By Guy Browning
Calling a lift is easy. Simply press the button and wait.
And then press the button again. Many lifts work on
the pressure you exert on the call button, so hitting it a
hundred times will make it arrive a lot faster. Before you
get into the lift, it’s as well to check whether it’s going up
or down. There’s nothing more embarrassing than
saying confidently to a packed lift ‘Ground floor please’
and then feeling the lift rocketing upwards.
Getting into a crowded lift is like entering a mini
party. Everyone’s already settled in there and when the
doors open they all look at you as if to say, ‘You’re not
coming in here.’ Just take a big breath, step in and then
say something to break the ice such as, ‘You’re probably
wondering why I called you all here.’
This difficult entry moment explains why even when
the lift is the size of your living room and there’s only
one small lady in it, the tendency is to wait for the next
one. If the same lady is in the next one, it could be her
job to operate the lift, so just get in and stop being so silly.
In a crowded lift it’s very bad manners ever to face
anybody head on. You should always try and be at least
90 degrees to your neighbours so that an aerial view
would look as if you were all finding your way around a
particularly tight maze.
Never talk to someone in a lift unless you know which
button they’ve pressed and you can tailor your conversation
to the exact second. Restrict yourself to saying
‘Morning’. In a lift it’s acceptable to say this at any time
of night or day, because you’re in your own little world
without daylight. The other word everyone wants to say
in a lift, especially when the little bell pings, is ‘lingerie’.
Don’t say this unless you’re with people you know and
love or you’re absolutely positive the other person is
You’re allowed to look at a stranger in a lift a
maximum of once, then you must look elsewhere for the
duration of your trip. That’s why it’s a relief when
everyone gets out and leaves you alone in the lift. You’re
then free to pull faces in the mirror, say ‘lingerie’ loudly
and pass wind extravagantly. Often at this moment you’ll
discover that the little lady is still in the lift with you.
Being in a lift means invading someone else’s body
space. This can be quite exciting when two people are
attracted to each other. Passions often ignite in lifts and
are sometimes even consummated. This can be awkward
for the other passengers, even at 90 degrees.