Idiots in the elevator…

If any Hong Kong local can step forward with a reasonable explanation for the points raised here…I’m all ears.

I’m talking about clueless elevator behaviour. You’d think in a city with 7 million people and probably about as many elevators, that people would have a pretty extensive or solid set of unwritten rules designed to make their 50 elevator rides a day as painless and comfortable as possible. So why…oh why, do they manage to fuck it up so comprehensively, so completely and so badly? Let’s investigate.

Not an elevator...someone's living room

If we turn a blind eye to the fairly tame and entertaining usual suspects such as those who savagely and repetitively mash the ‘close’ button like hilarious OCD sufferers, or the people with a cold yet comical refusal to ‘hold the door’, or those cheeky scamps who like to jam themselves into the lift before you’ve gotten out…that leaves two main areas of concern as I see it:

1. (Surprise, surprise)…Talking in the elevator at volume levels that can only be described as totally thoughtless and thoroughly selfish. Hey…this isn’t your living room or your uncle’s cabbage paddock on the mainland. It’s a small reverberant cubicle that’s shared by people in addition to you and your socially inept associates. A lot of people in Hong Kong seem to be a bit like the pet shop goldfish that’s brought home and dropped in the new tank for the first time. At first, they’re a bit docile…a bit stunned when they enter the lift…and you make the mistake of thinking ‘Yes! A quiet descent.’ But it doesn’t take them long to acclimatise and by the time you’ve gone one or two floors they’ve launched into the most ridiculously and unnecessarily loud chat you’ve ever heard in your life. Thank fuck mobile phones don’t work in most lifts. Could you imagine the carnage you’d be forced to endure if solo elevatorists could lob in and yell blue bloody murder on the phone all the way to the ground floor? Anyway, you start to wonder as it is…’Do they know I’m here? Are they aware that there are other people in the lift too? Why are they talking so loud? What is wrong with them? Should I start yelling too?’

Mash the buttons

And, moving along…

2. Inappropriate directional alignment. This one’s a bit hard to describe, but I’ll try. I’m talking about deadbeats who lean on the side wall facing sideways. Time after time, I’m standing in the lift alone leaning against the back wall looking towards the doors when, zombie like, some idiot enters and stands level with me at the side, staring at the side of my head. For most of us, this is a bit uncomfortable. In a confined space it’s a little creepy to have someone in your peripheral staring blankly in your general direction. It’s off-putting. So, to even things up, I always turn to face whoever it is who just entered…and I stare at their forehead, right between their eyes. In a matter of seconds, they start to feel uncomfortable – they tend to look up, look away, look at their feet, their watch, their fingernails, or study the descending/ ascending floor number display eight times a second…they fidget and stir and spasm and twitch before finally turning to face the door to escape my stare. At this point, I also turn the same way, having taught them the important social lesson of ‘no-one likes to be stared at so when you get into a lift don’t position yourself in a passively challenging, inappropriate direction that makes other people feel uneasy you stupid moron.’ Hong Kong people who enter a lift and stand as thus must be fools because they do it all the time and never seem to learn…and every time the music’s turned back at them they crumble like a fistful of stale, disgusting old moon cake. And I bet they wonder why. Investigations continue…

Right between the eyes

The rules, for those who don’t know them, are simple:

1. Enter the lift and push your button
2. Face the door and be quiet
3. Exit the lift

Now, congratulations are in order for me. I believe I am the one billionth person to make this observation about Hong Stinking Kong and its fucked in the head elevator etiquette.


This post brought to you by fake transactional etiquette...the 'double handed card return'. Thanks for handling my EPS card with the kind of courtesy, reverence and respect that only money warrants in Hong Kong. I'm impressed...

...also brought to you by these guys.

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11 Responses to Idiots in the elevator…

  1. Cletus says:

    Elevators. The bane of my existence in Hong Kong. Dudley is so right when he points out that Hongkongers should likely have figured out the rules by now, but haven’t. The reason for this, sadly, is quite easy to see. It is a reason that makes me question why I am in Hong Kong at all. It is a reason that causes me wonder if this behavior is something that has always been a part of the Chinese way of life. It is a reason that makes me shake my head. What is it you ask? Let me tell you:

    Hong Kong people have no idea what the real meaning of a ‘Public’ place is, how to behave when they are there, or the ability to bend or empathize with anyone else who is in this so-called ‘public’ space.

    People in Hong Kong (and, as always, the Mainland, although mainlanders are more clueless about social etiquette and can therefore be excused in this case) think that any place that is designated as ‘public’ is a place where they can do anything they fucking-well please. What are these places, you may wonder? Basically, it is ANY place that is not a private residence. That means places such as: shops, sidewalks, parks, RESTAURANTS, staff rooms, buses, trains, trams, meeting rooms, country paths, toilets, and, of course, elevators. If you have the unpleasant experience of having to utilize any of these ‘public’ places in the course of your day (which we all must do), be prepared for an onslaught of arrogance, hostility, noise, and general dis-interest by Hongkongers concerning your well-being as a human trying to enjoy life on this planet.

    In Hong Kong, there is this fucked-up belief that anything goes while you are in public. After all, Hongkongers are movers and shakers, and have to be able to do whatever they want at any time in order to keep up with life in this ‘fast-paced’ city, right? Please. The heart of the matter is that it has been ingrained into the minds of all Hongkongers that is is OK to speak loudly, jostle people, walk AT others, bump others with umbrellas, bark on phones, cut queues, rush into trains, and scream in elevators, because it is your Buddha-given right as a Hongkonger to do so. Taking others’ feelings into consideration? That thought doesn’t upset Hongkongers because it has never been a thought that has actually entered their head. Ever. “How could my behavior upset someone? We are both in a hurry right? We both need to get places fast, right? We both have pressures in life (as said so eloquently by Bus Uncle), no? We both have toilet paper to buy, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we both try to do it as fast as possible? So what if we speak loudly? It’s in the name of efficiency, right?” They cannot fathom how this behavior might upset someone. And if you are a foreigner and dare point out that something they are doing is bothering you? “Fuck you! Come backa your country! Fuck you! This is not 1997! This is China! Hear me? CHINA!!!” Granted, this reaction may not apply to all Hongkies, but overall there is an incredible amount of anti-gweilo racism simmering just below the surface, and trying to point out an etiquette issue to a Hongkie is a great opportunity for them to “open a can of abalone” on you! Maybe they might even give you this classic line: “Ooooh! So soooooory! I didn’t know you were so ssssensssitive!”

    So, next time you are in an elevator and a bunch of rude fucks enter, box you out, and yammer on at maximum volume all the way to their floor, remember this: actually they are not trying to be rude to you at all, they simply DO NOT EVEN REALIZE that they are behaving like cunts. They aren’t being assholes intentionally, it’s just that they lack the ability, willingness, or open-mindedness to realize that they are behaving like animals!

  2. “Ooooh! So soooooory! I didn’t know you were so ssssensssitive!” ??

    Well…allow me to point out to you, Mr Hong Kong man…how sadly insensitive you are.

    btw…I wonder how much urine is in a HK public pool

  3. Anonymous says:

    m8 what do u do apart from complaining in ur freetime?

  4. Dudley Dawson says:

    I think it’s pretty obvious that I don’t do much else

  5. fuckgweilo says:

    Fuck u all gweilo, “animals” is you, who fuck your children in the church like doggies, your pedo priests represent very well how “animals” u all r !

  6. Chrisfs says:

    I was told somewhere that Chinese elevators skip the number 4 due to superstitious reasons like Western elevators sometimes skip the number 13. Is this true ?

  7. Yeah that’s roughly true…except I’ve never heard of a western building doing that for the 13th floor

  8. Bigboy says:

    What is up with the obsession with the close door button – saving 1.2 seconds is crucial in Hong Kong???

  9. GrosJacques says:

    It’s not just about saving 1.2. seconds. I actually think that your average Hongkie sincerely believes that without their intervention, an elevator door will not close and they will find themselves trapped in an elevator with the door jammed open, with no possibility of escape.

  10. King of the Slums says:

    ‘Sorry!’ means nothing in Hong Kong, it’s just a kamikaze style utterance before you get run through as they enter the lift before you get out. Filthy pigs mostly

  11. Ronnie Poo says:

    How many times have you seen a crowd waiting for an elevator, call buttons lit, and each and every new arrival is compelled to push the buttons again before they join the waiting masses? Every time. Then, the first person that gets in presses the ‘door closed’ button before pressing a floor button. Not sure if it’s stupidity, spite, or insanity that drives these behaviors. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my office buillding…

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