The law offices where I work are located on the 9th floor of a bank building in the center of downtown. Since the bank lobby and the mailboxes are on the main floor, along with the entrance from our parking lot across the street, I find myself riding the elevators up and down several times a day. (Note to self... three round trips in very rapid succession leaves one feeling quite wobbly, as I discovered today. :-)
Typically there are just or two other passengers in the elevator car along with me, with the potential cast of characters ranging from bankers and lawyers in business suits to clinic workers in assorted brightly printed scrubs, to uniformed security, to indigent folks off the street who are are part of our law firm's clientele. Like a box of chocolates... one never knows who their riding companions are going to be.
As part of my personal goal to more in the moment this year and to interact more with those around me, I've decided to break the "rule of silence" that seems to be written on invisible ink in the elevator cars. Other than a perfunctory mumbled "good morning" or "hello" everyone for the most part steps in, pushes the button for their floor, and spends the remaining time staring silently at their feet or the advertisements on the walls. So now, when I enter the elevator, or when someone enters after me, I make a point of saying something friendly - maybe commenting on what they are wearing, the ever changing West Texas spring weather, or whatever small conversation comes to mind. It's surprising what a smile and friendly word can accomplish. From the most humble to the most polished rider, it is rare for them not to respond, even if at times they appear a bit surprised that I have broken the code of silence.
Returning from lunch today I found myself in the company of a businessman with not one but two briefcases and weary look for so early in the week. I looked at him and said simply "I think we're going the wrong way." Puzzled, he looked at me like "what the hell is she talking about?" It's not like elevators have a lot of options other than up and down. "It's a beautiful day outside, I think we should be leaving and heading off to sit in the park and watch the grass grow!" He smiled in agreement and said "that sounds nicer than being stuck here, doesn't it?" We agreed that being cooped up in a building is hard when it's a lovely 75 degrees of sunshine outside. Stepping out when he reached his floor, he turned to me and said "I hope the rest of your day passes quickly." I thanked him and smiled to myself. That very brief encounter lightened both of our hearts a tiny bit, just in the shared acknowledgment that there was some place else we'd both rather be.
You know, we all get tired of feeling like invisible automatons moving about our days in our own little worlds. I challenge you, the next time you find yourself out in public among strangers, take a second to share a smile or a friendly greeting, it won't kill you and it just might improve your day along with theirs. At worst, it will result in those wary looks that tell you they are about to start gathering their children to keep them at arm's length from the crazy lady, and that can be entertaining too! :-))