Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
Is There a Proper Order for Exiting an Elevator?
Q: What is the best order for exiting an elevator? Ladies first? Elders first? Annoying people (like me) with giant briefcases
or packages first? I always find myself in split-second uncomfortable situations when leaving the elevator.
Hammonton, New Jersey
A: It’s amazing how a 30-second elevator ride, with the right combination of awkward chitchat or stultifying silence, can make anyone want to run screaming from the elevator. But generally I would say: Elders and physically challenged people exit first. Then I would let someone like you with your big ol’ burdensome packages (or strollers or toddlers) off next. After that, it gets a little more dicey. To me, the “ladies first” rule feels comically outdated. Personally, I would defer to the other people on the elevator (male or female), allowing them to get off before leaving myself. (Although this can result in an endless chipmunk routine of “After you!” “No, after you!”) If you do find yourself stuck in an awkward, overly polite standoff, it’s perfectly fine to accept the offer to get out of there first. Since most of us are always in a hurry, the thing we appreciate even more than protocol is speed.
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