When you reach the top, remember to send the elevator back down for others
It’s going to sound a bit like a complaint (which it is) but the elevator (lift) system in a building where we have an office is really antiquated. In a row of four elevators, at busy periods only two of them work: one going up, the other going down. You might think that odd: what are the other two doing? Well, they are waiting for someone to call them from a floor that doesn’t already have people who’ve pressed the button. So the empty elevators sit there, until the other two reach their destinations and then, hey presto, one will burst into life. Not very efficient, you might think. Old-fashioned too – the technology has been around for over thirty years to fix that. (But that costs money, and the landlord watches every cent.) The whole scenario wastes so much of the tenants’ valuable time; the landlord saves a dollar, so I suppose he’s happy.
But it got me thinking. There is a famous quote which reads "when you've reached the top, send the elevator back down for the others" (credit Edith Piaf). It’s allegorical, meaning being prepared to help those below you on the career ladder so that they might also enjoy success. But why couldn’t that happen literally? If, at peak periods, the last one out took the trouble (what trouble?) to press the button to send the lift up or down, as required, the problem would simply evaporate. All four elevators would do the job they are designed to do and passenger waiting times would be kept to a minimum.
There's a wider angle here, of course, as there usually is in my columns. It’s about helping people – in whatever way. So many of us can be thoughtless. It doesn’t mean that we are bad people, far from it. It simply means that we don’t think about how we might help others, or at least make their situation less worse than it is. For example: the only person who insists on having a loud conversation on their mobile phone in an otherwise quiet train carriage during rush hour. The rest of us are minding our own business, absorbed in our own worlds, and we have to listen to the intimate details of their personal life.
In our busy world there are a thousand ways, every day, of showing a little bit of kindness, consideration or helping others. Think how marvelous the world could be if we all took just one or two opportunities each day to help each other. In the digital world we live in today sometimes it really can be just a case of pressing a button! Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?