Elevator Joy Rides

by admin on February 28, 2013

A few weeks ago, I visited a dear friend who was in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital in her hometown.  After lengthy and difficult travel most of the day, my husband and I finally arrived at the hospital around 10:00 pm. Because it was after hours, I had to submit my driver’s license at the security desk to get a security pass, go to the elevator and use the security pass to get access to it, wait for the elevator to arrive and go to the appropriate floor.   The elevator opens to reveal a receptionist desk not more than 12 feet to my left and a large waiting area past the desk.  As I walk up to the desk to get further access into the ICU and my friend’s room, a young adult female, I’m guessing in her early 20’s, standing to the side of the desk announces to me, my husband and the receptionist that she wants to get on the elevator, push every floor button and ride the elevator up and down for an undetermined period of time.  I did something so uncharacteristic that my husband did a doubletake.  I calmly, and with a deadpan expression, looked at her and said, “Don’t be a pain in the ass. This isn’t about what you want.”

My reaction was based on an immediate understanding of how this “play” could negatively affect people getting to the ICU at a time they were already stressed. If I had been on the elevator when it hit every floor as the seconds ticked by merely to amuse this bored woman, I would have been very irritated and distressed.  I am on my way to possibly say “good bye” to someone who is teetering on the brink of death and the last thing I need is to be a passenger on someone else’s elevator joy rides delaying my arrival even more.   0211-13

Stress and grief make people say stupid things.   I would have been sorely tempted to have said the same thing to her as well.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:43 pm

This story almost sounds made up. She actually said that to you, unprovoked? If it actually happened, I’d assume it was a lame attempt at a joke. Along the lines of me saying I need an IV drip of coffee (I don’t, really).


jessica February 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Just want to add that it’d be absurd to call security over someone stating an idle fancy (nonviolent) with no apparent intention of following through. It’s ridiculous to be in an ICU of a hospital and assume you’re the only one under stress.


PM February 28, 2013 at 8:09 pm

@lilac it wasn’t a “big group” like GS, 4-H, FFA, etc.


Hannah2 February 28, 2013 at 10:21 pm

I can easily see myself saying something similar in an effort to want to escape the stress if the ICU, and I think a response like the OPs to be way out of line.


Ally February 28, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I just think the OP could easily have missed the earlier part of the conversation where the woman told the receptionist that she’d been with her dying mom all day or something. The fact that the OP herself was stressed and grieving was a factor, but she never considered that the woman she was speaking to could have been in the same or worse situation.

I know that my own mother was chided in a hospital for being rude to someone because she hadn’t responded to a request to push an elevator button. My mom at the time was riding to the elevator to get her dad a cup of tea because her mom had just died. She was in a daze and so hadn’t responded. My mom was only 20 years old when this happened. I think you should avoid snark in a hospital.


Tanz February 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

I think both the OP and the woman by the desk were rude, and probably for the same reason; ie. the stress of dealing with having a seriously ill loved one. I think it’s clear that neither of them was thinking about other people at the time.


Mer March 1, 2013 at 3:07 am

Tanz: I think you said it.

I do think it is the most probable situation that young woman was as well stressed out and this was just an idle wish to do something which would relieve her stress. After all, it was 10PM in hospital, icu. I know I sometimes want to throw some whiteware when I’m badly stressed. I never have and never will do that in reality but I could easily sigh something like that to a friend. And sympathetic hospital receptionist who I might have talked with longer/several times while visiting someone ICU might fall in this category too.

But I would not be too harsh to OP, she was also stressed and tired and I also can easily see that when you are stressed and tired, you are in your own bubble. Somebody said that OP did not say this woman seemed stressed or tired or anything. Well, of course I can’t know, but I wonder, would she even have been in situation to notice this. After all, her mind was most probably already with her friend, she was stressed and most probably tired after day’s hard travel. So she heard just the outrageous comment with no context at all and I just can easily understand the thought of train starting from “oh my god if someone had done that just now when I was hurrying towards my friend in very bad condition” that caused the quite rudely formed comment in fear of somebody really executing the wish.

But this is just speculation, like everything in comments as we weren’t there.


Erin March 1, 2013 at 9:55 am

I don’t think the elevator girl really meant anything, she was probably just as stressed as the OP and we all need a bit of leeway when we’re under serious stress.

My sister-in-law had a very serious accident when she was in the Navy and we all had to travel to Washington DC to be with her while she was in the ICU. She wasn’t the only person in serious condition – we were among several families who didn’t know if our loved ones would survive. The hospital had two waiting rooms, one with a TV, magazines, toys, etc. and one with the lights dimmed and no TV. I was sitting with my husband in the louder room, shuffling some cards to play solitaire, and a young woman was trying to nap on one of the couches. I didn’t realize what she was doing until she snapped at me to stop with the cards, it was rude, and SOME PEOPLE were trying to sleep. I put the cards away and didn’t say anything, but the question is, who was rude? Me for shuffling the cards, or her for trying to nap in the louder room instead of the completely unused quiet room meant for napping? The answer is: it doesn’t matter. We were both stressed and worried about a loved one. Sometimes you have to just cut people a little slack.


Cordelia March 1, 2013 at 10:23 am

I had to visit a friend in the ICU a few months ago. Sadly, she died later that week, but I do remember the stress and the pain of having someone you care about in that place. Luckily, I was able to see my friend for the last time without it being marred by any rudeness whatsoever.

I got no indication from the OP that the young woman actually had any intention of following through on her passing thought. It sounded to me like she was just trying to crack a joke to relieve the tension.

OP’s behavior could have been justified if the young woman had actually tried to do this, but the young woman *didn’t actually do anything at all*. So, I think OP was the rude one. Maybe OP’s rudeness was affected by the stress she was under, but OP shouldn’t have said something like that. Calling the girl a profane name is completely out of line.

A better way to respond to the girl’s remark might have been, “I hope you don’t mean that seriously; that would be an inconsiderate thing to do.” Or, “We’ve had a long day coming here to see our friend. Please don’t joke about doing something like that.”


Joanna March 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Is it possible the young woman was mentally challenged? That was my first thought upon reading this. I can’t really picture any other reason a woman in her twenties would want to ride up and down in an elevator, stress or grief notwithstanding.


Hannahbobama March 1, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Really? It seems that I’ve been reading a lot, not only on this site but others as well, how it has somehow become great to blast off your mouth, bad swearing and all, get a round if applause from everyone in the room, and a heroes welcome. Regardless of the young woman’s intention, age, or humor level, OP was out of line. And Bint, I think when people try to think thru scenarios (suggesting illnesses, or memtal instabilities)and try to be somewhat gracious, it shows real etiquette ,


abcd1234 March 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Here’s a trick I read about somewhere although it might come off as passive aggressive.

When someones does that deliberately, just hold the floor you desire and the close button at the same time for several seconds. Supposedly, it will ignore all other floors. It is a secret VIP code built in to the elevator.


Margaret March 2, 2013 at 11:25 am

@PM, dropping food plates from three stories up sounds like attempted assault. Stealing food is robbery. Could police have been called?


kudeebee March 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I do think the OP was rude in what she said. The woman said she wanted to, she didn’t say she was going to nor was she in the elevator starting to do it. OP has no idea what was going on in the woman’s life, who she was here to visit in ICU, how long she had been there, what the receptionist and the woman had been talking about, etc. She could have been under as much sress, perhaps more, than the OP and was just stating that riding the elevator for a period of time could help her forget what was going on. If OP felt like saying something, a “now that probably wouldn’t be a good idea, would it, considering others might need to use the elevators?” would have been a better choice. This is a perfect example of why we should think before we speak.


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