Spending my days on the 6th floor of a mid-rise office building suggests I spend my hours enjoying the steady vertical motions of elevators, with their rhythmic dings and clunk of closing doors. Over my four years of duty here I’ve amassed a mental catalogue of a hundred-plus faces and a hundred-minus names. My odds of encountering on an elevator one of those ‘instant recognizables’ are good. My odds of encountering on an elevator one of a thousand brand new faces are damn good. Even better are the chances that it’ll be only us two in the elevator. This creates an initial period of striving for recognition, followed by failure, followed by:

??: “How’s it going?”

Me: “Good, good. How ’bout you?”

??: “Good.”

Me: “Good!”

This exchange exhausts my list of conversation pieces. My recourse then is to earnestly hope for a malfunction in the ‘ding’ system resulting in a series of obnoxious auditory distractions; one can hardly attempt a conversation over those. In a truly dire situation, a shriek-inducing free-fall plunge—but only one that  ends with a pleasant cushiony landing—may be the only thing that saves us from more goofy looks.

I by no means oppose greetings and pleasantries; I just question the sense of robotic chatter whose  sole purpose is to prevent awkward silences. Its result is only occasionally less awkward than complete silence. How can mankind overcome such nonsense? Perhaps we should all sport buttons with a large “Doin’ Good”, written in a fun red font at least 20 points large, to spare others the inquiry.

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