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Madrid City in English
Monday 19th of November 2018
Jeff Wiseman 1208 7th of August 2012 by admin 7th of August 2012
Photo (CC) flickr: SanFranAnnie
Elevating troubles

Almost every building in Madrid has an elevator or two, but spending a few minutes in one with a complete stranger can make or break your day. suggests a few tips to avoid embarrassing social interaction

You know the sequence. You’ve stepped alone into a lift, and are about to enjoy a stress-free solo journey. The doors are closing, but a last-minute passenger leaps through the gap. In your dreams, it might be Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz. But, of course, reality is never like that. Reality bites.
    The last-minute intrusion in real life is often someone who looks like an extra from a Lord of the Rings battle scene, or even worse, a sweaty businessman. Spending time in a confined space with a stranger can be intimidating, but there are certain “don’ts” that at least make the situation bearable. Our worst case scenario illustrates the problems, floor by floor:

Floor 1
Firstly, never make eye contact. With a stranger in a lift, remember that your feet have never been more important, and your gaze should be focused on them throughout. However, this is easier said than done. We have an innate human curiosity. What if the person who leapt through the closing doors is actually the man or woman you’ve been waiting for all your life? Don’t even think about it. Please don’t glance. Don’t look up. Don’t!

Floor 2
OK, so now you’ve made eye contact, and you’re cursing yourself. The person less than half a metre away isn’t dream-like. In fact, they look as though they’ve dressed in the dark, you’re pretty sure they’re wearing a wig, and they’re sweating profusely. Have they been rushing or do they have a tropical disease? There’s no need to worry—if they have a disease, you’ll have already contracted it. It’s the eye contact that’s a bigger concern, because now the temptation is to smile Photo (CC) flickr: Debs(o_ó)politely, just to ease the tension. Whatever happens, don’t do this. Don’t politely smile! Don’t, don’t!

Floor 3
OK, so you’ve smiled at your lift companion, and suddenly you’ve put yourself in very dangerous territory. You’re thinking “Please don’t start a conversation”, while your companion is equally stressed, thinking “Well, that was a pleasant smile, maybe I should say something.” Even though you’re looking at your shoes again, suddenly you hear the two words that send a shudder down every lift-passenger’s spine: “Good morning!” Relax; take it easy. Just nod. Don’t panic, and most of all, don’t respond. Don’t. Don’t!

Floor 4
OK, you’ve responded by saying “Good morning” too. Big mistake. Now there’s a conversation on the cards. There are some terrifying possibilities here from your fellow passenger (“On Sundays I like chasing squirrels in the Retiro” or “Isn’t it funny how it gets dark every night”), but something that can elicit a reply is most likely. You pray that the comment doesn’t end with a question tag, so that you can just nod and terminate the exchange. For a brief moment there’s hope, as you hear “It’s quite hot today...” but then the hope is shattered by the addition of “... isn’t it?” Keep things simple. A “yes” will suffice. Don’t try to be funny, and don’t let your nerves get the better of you. We repeat, don’t try to be funny. Don’t. Please don’t!

Floor 5
OK, you could have just said “yes”, but with nerves jangling and your mind malfunctioning, you add “er.. especially if you’re a sheep with a woolly coat.” Why did you say that? It was completely unnecessary, and now your face is crimson and you’re giggling like an idiot. You look desperately at the floor indicator, which seems to be moving slower than a Galapagos turtle. In seeking a distraction, don’t try to find your iPhone, mobile or Blackberry. In this high-stress predicament, you won’t remember which pocket you put it in. Don’t try to find it. Don’t, don’t, don’t!

Floor 6
OK, so you’ve tried to find it. Bad move; because it slowly dawns on you that, in your desperate search of your jeans’ pockets, it actually looked as though you were fondling yourself. Try to fight back the tears as you wonder what sort of signal you’ve been giving your lift companion, and how they might have interpreted it. There’s only one floor to go. Stand in front of the doors so that you can escape this social torture.

Floor 7
Of course, in your distress you fail to notice that the lift has doors that can open to the left or right side, and sure enough it’s the doors behind you that slide apart. Your lift companion exits like a greyhound from a trap, leaving you staring at two grey metal panels. As you try to pull yourself together, a passenger leaps in, and you’re on your way back down. See floor one.

If all of these stresses and pitfalls are too much to cope with, then we can recommend the “English Method” of lift travel: if there is the remotest possibility of another passenger, take the stairs. Failing that, we hope that the neon numbers in your escapades pass as quickly as possible.

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