There is no specific word that means fear of elevators. Most people call anxiety toward elevators “claustrophobia”, which is a fear of small, enclosed spaces. It fits the bill, but a 1983 Volkswagon Rabbit is also a tiny space to find yourself.
In the car, you can unlock the doors, or look out the windows. There is an illusion of some control there. But in an elevator, the big, metallic doors close and will not open again until you’ve been whisked away. There is a certain faith that goes along with riding elevators. And those people who suffer from acute fears of them won’t get on.
For the rest of us, elevators are the best ways to manipulate our analog bodies to higher planes. And sometimes, we are just bound to stand in these elevators with complete strangers.
Why, at least anecdotally in my life, does weather conversation appear so often? Talking about how cold it is outside, or that it’s going to rain on Tuesday, or asking me if I ordered up this snow. Do we just need to fill the quiet spaces with words or we’ll all get so uncomfortable and start clawing up the elevator walls?
Here’s an idea. If someone comments about the weather, especially while riding an elevator with you, gently acknowledge their comment, then counter with one of the following:
1) Imagine if Neandertals had won the evolutionary struggle against Homo Sapiens and we were all descendants of them. How would this elevator be constructed differently?
2) When the elevator doors open upon our designated floor, what if we found all time had stopped? What would be the first thing you would do?
3) What if pushing the elevator buttons caused us to fall into a parallel dimension where there are dragons and magic? Would you train to be a witch or wizard, or would you choose to remain a regular mortal as you are now?
With those questions, you are disrupting their predictable flow. Damming up their river banks. Sending them a metaphorical slap to the face.
You have forced their Prefrontal Cortex into operation and raised their consciousness by one tick.
Maybe this will have no further impact on your elevator companion, but what if it does?
I would much rather live in a world where everyone’s awareness has been raised one tick.
Now what if we tried to raise everyone’s consciousness by a factor of ten? The world would suddenly expand and feel less claustrophobic.