The elevator is such a convenience in buildings nowadays that we take it for granted when we need to access other floors in multi-storey buildings. Yet in this time and age, it is surprising that people still do not know how to use elevators properly.
They crowd around the entrance and rush in the moment the doors open without even allowing the occupants inside to exit first. Some use their shopping trolleys like a battering ram to intimidate others into allowing them to get in first. That is Malaysian kiasuism at its ugliest.
We should use the elevators like we use other public facilities. Courtesy and politeness should be the order of the day. The following is a list of good elevator etiquettes that I have compiled from experience and observing other elevator users, polite and inconsiderate ones, in my weekly jaunts to shopping malls.
1. Adhere to queuing rules. First come first served. If you are in a rush, the stairs are a faster alternative.
2. Stand aside to allow occupants of the elevator to come out before getting in. It is inconsiderate to push your way in when people are still coming out.
3. Hold the door for others to get in if you are the first or only person inside an elevator. Many times, I had the door closing on me after the person before me had walked in, with both hands empty and morosely watched as the door hit my wheelchair.
4. Hold the door open for others if you are standing beside the control panel. Likewise close the door when no one else wants to get in or out.
5. Thank the person holding the door open for you.
6. Move all the way to the back to allow more people to get in. Don’t stand right in front of the elevator even when there is enough space at the back to hold another five persons.
7. If you are deep at the back when the elevator reaches your floor, be polite and ask those in front of you to give way instead of pushing your way out. Say something like: “Excuse me, this is my floor.” Thank them when you are out.
8. Avoid taking the elevators if you are coughing or sneezing repeatedly from influenza. Some things are not meant to be shared. This is one of them.
9. Don’t push a wheelchair without asking if assistance is needed. Most time it is not. The wheelchair is an extension of the user’s body. Pushing the wheelchair without asking is like pushing a non-disabled person on the shoulder, which is not only rude but could cause the person to fall from the unanticipated action.
10. And lastly, hold that fart!
Some Malaysians are blatantly kiasu. They are competitively selfish, if there ever is a term to describe those few who make other fellow countrymen look uncultured and rude. They jump queue. They refuse to yield in crawling traffic. They park in accessible parking because they have a baby and a pram, or are senior citizens.
Wuan and I were waiting for the elevator at Mid Valley Megamall yesterday. There were only two of us. Then came a family of several with two shopping trolleys full of groceries. The older of the group parked her trolley right outside the elevator door in front of me. When it opened, she rushed in followed by the rest. By the time they were all inside, there was no more space for me. No wonder children nowadays do not have manners. With grandparents and parents like these, it is not surprising at all.
The following incident happened a few weeks back. Traffic leaving The Gardens Mall always comes to a crawl just before closing time. Coming out from the underground car park, I have to switch from the right-most lane to the left-most to get to the Federal Highway to go home. I had slowly merged into the middle lane from the right. With my left-turn signal blinking, I was looking for an opportunity to merge into the left lane. Traffic was slow. I noticed a big gap and slowly eased in.
The front of my car was already in the left lane. The young man driving a white Myvi refused to yield. He stepped on the accelarator to close the gap. Our cars came within inches of scraping against each other. I stopped and honked at him. He drove on as if nothing happened. When I turned left down the ramp to the Federal Highway, he was still stuck in the jam going to Old Klang Road and Petaling Jaya. What I could not understand was would allowing one car get ahead of him delay his journey home considerably in that traffic condition? I take back my words about crazy Penang and Ipoh drivers. Those in the Klang Valley are equally as bad.
The Gardens Mall has ten accessible parking bays at Level P2. Eight of these are beside the travelator, the other two outside the elevator lobby. Twice I came across parents with babies parking their cars at the accessible parking bays. One had a pram. The other just carried the baby and walked off. No prams. Nothing! If every vehicle with a baby and a pram were to park in these bays, ten would certainly not be enough. Shopping malls nowadays are crawling with prams and strollers. And parents such as these are lazy and inconsiderate. They abuse these facilities for their own convenience and deprive other people who genuinely need it from using it.
Are senior citizens entitled to park at accessible parking bays? Yes, if they have a mobility impairment or are using a wheelchair. No if they can walk, almost gallopping, from the car park to the travelator. These old couple, looking around sixtyish seemed to think otherwise. Two weeks ago, I was waiting for Wuan to lock the car. This elderly couple conveniently parked their car beside ours. The wife hopped out and walked away quickly. The husband look at me, shooked his head, smiled and walked away in equal haste. I looked at him in disbelief. Before I could react, they were already on the travelator and then disappeared from my sight in a blink. The same car was parked in the accessible parking bay a few weeks before that, too.
Thank God, these bad examples of human decency are the exception. I have also come across very polite and thoughtful people who allow me to get into the elevators first or have offered their place in the queue to me, which I declined most times. If I could spend hours shopping in the malls, there should not be a reason why I could not spend another ten minutes waiting in line to pay.
Malaysians calling our Singaporean neighbours kiasu should think twice. Some of us on this side of the causeway are no better. In fact, I have a number of Singaporean friends who are very nice people. This is not exclusively a nationality thing. Some of us, irrespective of colour or creed, simply do not have what it takes to be civil and courteous while others have an abundance of it. It is about how we were brought up. It is all about manners.