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Campus Microcosm: Elevator Rides Reveal Student Life

It happens every night. More towards the weekend, which conveniently starts on a Thursday for upperclassmen, nevertheless, the weekend is the prime time.

Upon walking into any elevator, you’ll see an array of possibilities.

I think of each time I step into an elevator as a game. Like a guessing game because I never know what interesting items I’ll come upon. You can quote “Forrest Gump” on this but just switch the word “life” with “walking into an elevator,” because you truly will “never know what you’re gonna get.”

Pick any major dorm room with elevators; like Brevard and especially Vaughn. Make your way through the Vaughn Courtyard filled with hookah smokers and already drunk students to the elevator lobby.

As you wait a few minutes, the ding signals the next available elevator, almost like you won a prize.

In elevator one, there will be a Natural Ice can (obviously for us broke college students) tugged in the far left corner, an apple smashed into pieces all over the wall and a half-empty solo cup right smack-dab in the middle.

Within elevator number two there is a cup from the café, a puddle of some mysterious liquid with footprints tracked onto every tile and an obnoxious amount of flyers scattered all around to promote the newest club.

Wait, that’s not it. Walk into elevator three and you’ll see the healthier alternative: a half-eaten granola bar, a banana peel and a straw. Don’t ask me where the straw comes in, because I’m guessing it was misplaced from elevator one.

How these things make their way into the elevators always surprises me. I’d love to watch the surveillance footage because even in a drunken state, I’d like to think I can hold my own.

Upon entering an elevator it is not just the interesting things you see, but indeed the people that come staggering in and out of them.

I remember it being six at night and seeing two girls completely wasted carrying a beer bong as if it were normal. It seemed equivalent to carrying my school bag and literature books. And not to mention the girl’s dress was tucked into her underwear—but that my friend is another story. Classy right?

Which elevator personality are you?                        Allan Chato / Flickr

Which elevator personality are you? Allan Chato / Flickr

Each elevator rider can be categorized, for lack of a better term.

The first group is the men that just came from the gym. They’re often drenched in sweat and speaking two octaves too high. As they stop at each floor they roar like animals, pushing each other out and giving their personalized handshakes as a form of goodbye. As they move around their sweat wipes off on your clean skin and Purell hand sanitizer never felt so necessary until now.

Of course, when entering an elevator with this group, there is always one girl that stands there in awkward silence. She holds her breath and releases it as the elevator stops at each floor, and she huddles in the corner to avoid the unique stench.

The next categorized group is the “higher than life.” They are the ones that walk into the elevator laughing at nothing, yet everything. Just stare at them in an attempt to make eye contact and their paranoia sets them off onto exiting on the next floor and heading to the closest stairwell.

They hit every button to be funny and laugh when their gazes lock on each other. Their walk from the park to the dorm was the most extensive, and they probably won’t be doing anything that requires moving, well except for eating of course. There is a reason why the café closes at seven on weekends-with late hours, the school would most likely lose money on an all-you-can-eat-buffet. With the combination of students under the influence after a night out, they almost always have the munchies.

I can recall my old roommate ordering a large cheese pizza every single time she came home from a wasted night out. It would be 3 a.m. and besides sleep, the only thing on her mind was food. How she never got sick of pizza, I will never know. I just remember trying to hide the menus, claiming they were closed, but she must have had the number on speed dial.

Another category of elevator riders are the scandalous ladies. They are the ones that wear practically nothing when it’s 50 degrees out and rock the three-inch heels. They remove their treacherous shoes upon getting out of the cab, but with all the things you find in the elevator, I don’t think it’s such a good idea.

Accompanying them are the groups of men soaked in cologne. They are the more conservative in dress, but equivalent to their levels of intoxication. Each of them is paired off in couples with a few going stag, but their loud rowdiness makes their excitement a little overbearing.

But of course, I can’t leave out the studious students of this fine university. They are the ones you see will bloodshot eyes and bags under their eyes from studying. They appear a bit pale from their lack of sleep, and you can see the look of envy as they see their fellow students all dressed up for a night out. Such feelings however, are temporary because they have their priorities in line.

One more category of elevator goers is the international students who speak their native tongue with their friends. Failing to eavesdrop, you just smile and wait patiently until the doors open.

Even on a weekday, sober, conscious and alert, elevator rides still remain interesting. As a few people step in, there is seemingly a vow of silence. No one speaks, except for the minor comment on the scary elevator noise, and even then they stifle a laugh. Sometimes there are side conversations between two or three people, but the rest remains silent and awkward. After asking for the floor number, the next thirty seconds either become tense, or you make a new friend.

But one type of elevator rider that never ceases to exist is the one that lacks the unspoken elevator etiquette. He or she is the one that sees you coming fifteen feet behind, but hits the door close button constantly to avoid the wait.

Patience is indeed a virtue, and some struggle with the concept.

Each one of these categories can all be a metaphorical look into their personalities. The one that fails to hold the door is the impatient jerk and the one that holds it open, even in a rush, is what we look for in a friend.

So who are you?

Narisa Imprasert can be reached at Nimprasert@ut.edu.

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