Recently I ran across several websites totally devoted to people taking their picture in elevator mirrors. Some of the photos were sexy, some funny and some highly inappropriate. One set of photos were in the documentary style of a daily photograph, marking life one frame at a time, one elevator ride at a time (see the website here). It is interesting that mirrors in the interior of elevators have become so fascinating to so many leading to just one question…
Are we all that self-absorbed?
Believe it or not there is an old elevator legend about how mirrors were first put into use in cars and and in elevator lobbies. The yarn is that the elevator in a certain high-rise building was slowing down with age and lack of attention and instead of making needed repairs, the building owner looked to the brilliant mind of a psychology student that lived in the building for a solution (Ok…I know this will be addressed later in the blog but really???? You are that cheap????).
The student suggested a less expensive alternative TO ACTUAL REPAIRS by giving people something to do other than just standing and staring at a blank wall when waiting. Theoretically, this would make the time pass faster and make it seem as if the wait was much shorter. The result was the first mirror installed in an elevator and the lobby. People have been straightening their ties, combing their hair, checking their zipper and entertaining themselves in those mirrors ever since. It is a truism that much like caged birds preening in front of a their reflection, people get distracted by their own image as well and don’t think of the slow ride to their destination. As people are want to do, that philosophy has been taken to the extreme and now distraction seems to be on steroids. It is beyond just looking at ourselves for entertainment. Now you can dance as you go up and down like in this elevator in Legoland that has a light show and disco music.
Ultimately, that story about the mirrors may or may not be true. I have looked for genuine sources and it seems that everyone claims the mirror idea was theirs first or that it was unique to them. There are versions of the tale from IBM, Penn State, Bucknell even some Bigg Elevator companies had a version of the story circulating around.
The real problem with the story however, is not the mirror or the disco ball as the case maybe. Yes, even I appreciate glaring in a mirror during an elevator ride to double check for broccoli in my teeth, but only if I’m all alone; the problem is the premise that the elevator was running slow due to age or lack of attention and the mirror was a cheap work-around and not solving the real problem. Remember, we are transporting very important cargo…people. An putting a Band Aid on a potential maintenance problem is a really, really bad idea.
So, if your elevator is running slow get a real solution from an elevator expert, not the psychology major from the forth floor! Here is a list of specific things that need to be checked out by a licensed elevator technician to improve performance if your elevator is running slow.
- The setup could be the problem. Elevators are sophisticated pieces of machinery that rely on a proper setting. Settings could improve performance.
In a hydraulic elevator the control valve could be going out. The control value controls the elevator speed. A bad one could slow things down. But even cold weather can create the need for improved settings.
- In a traction elevator (ones with ropes) there might be a problem with output to the motor or the motor drive. Slow motion could also be early symptoms of motor equipment failure.
- It might not be a mechanical problem at all. The building and elevator use could have increased or the purpose of the elevator might have changed. This could be slowing the whole thing down even though it is working just fine. A new office with more foot traffic could be the culprit. Adjusting where the elevator rests could help.
Eventually if the mechanical issues are not addressed it could cause a failure, leaving people stuck or worse. Keep in mind that depending on the type of the elevator and application it may just be slower than you would like. Although no one likes a slow elevator, a smooth, quality ride is just as important, besides you need time to take all those selfies.