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Saturday, November 12, 2005


Elevator Etiquette

Sure, there's a lot going on in Azerbaijan but Carpetblog is a space for commentary on important topics, like elevator etiquette, not politics. Carpetblogger has no opinions on such issues.

Western organizations love to do trainings in places like Azerbaijan. If it were up to me, I'd give out grants for trainings on the proper use of and behavior in elevators.

Modern elevators are a relatively new arrival in Baku. Elevators in most Soviet-era apartment buildings are smelly, non-functional death traps the size of a coffin. The doors on elevators in government buildings slam shut like metal jaws and leave serious bruises in you're caught in between. It's better just to take the stairs. I'd be surprised if there's a functioning elevator outside of the Absheron peninsula.

With this many highrises being built, elevator etiquette is more important than ever!

This means that many locals -- especially those from the regions -- are not up to speed with the way elevators are designed to work.

I work on the 13th floor of a brand new, modern office building, so this is a salient issue for me. It has several hundred people working in it. It has only three tiny elevators that hold no more than six people at a time. It can take 20 minutes to get downstairs at 6 pm when the building clears out.

Setting aside the design flaws of a 17-floor building that has only three elevators (yet rents per square meter on par with major European cities), things would go much smoother at rush hour if people used the elevator correctly.

My colleagues and I have noticed that some locals summon the elevator based on where it is relative to where they are, not the direction they want to go.

For example, someone standing on the 13th floor wants to go down, but the elevator is on the 8th floor. He or she pushes the UP arrow to call the elevator up, rather than the DOWN arrow to indicate he or she wants to go down.

This causes the elevators to make unnecessary stops, since inevitably, other down-goers who know how elevators work, push the down arrow. Correcting this would save countless minutes of my time -- time that would be much better spent sitting in the traffic that's bottled up in front of an 17 floor office building with no parking. (Urban planning would be another potential area where the west could share some "lessons learned" and "best practices.")

Needless to say, summertime hygiene, smoking policies and appropriate cell phone use would have to be included in the training.

However, since this training has to be culturally appropriate and take into consideration "local mentality" (my favorite common phrase in Azerbaijan), the custom that allows women to get on first, even if there are 10 men waiting for the six person elevator ahead of her, must be respected.

Please elaborate on "summertime hygiene". By the way, who is building these new office buildings, and why do you think they are lacking from a safety point of view?
I have to disagree with the previous comment. Please *don't* elaborate on "summertime hygiene."

And as for the elevators, depending on how fit you are, have you considered just taking the stairs and chalking it up to aerobic exercise? Sounds like it might be preferable, especially in summertime.
Dear Blogger,
I am very sorry about the difficulties you experience as a consequence of small elevators in our business centre. Currently the problem is being adressed in the boad of the company and there are plans of adding two more elevators to the building complex. And regarding security and safety, the building is equipped with everything that is required by international standards. If you have any concerns please feel free to contact. I am more than happy to help in this matter. (agacis@mail.az)

Best Regards

PS. I have to mention that I find your blog extremely amusing, creative and interesting.. (does get a bit offending though, every now and then, especially when it comes to your choise of photographable objects)
I work for an international organization in Kosovo and recently visited Azerbaijan (and also became good friends with Ruslan!) so I get a kick out of most of your postings. In Kosovo, in our ten-story building with two elevators, we have similar "elevator etiquette" to what you describe, both with pushing the wrong button (actually, most often BOTH buttons are pushed with the justification that that will make one of the elevators come more quickly) and with letting women on and off the elevator first. The second element frequently plays out as follows: international woman/women standing towards the back of the elevator, Kosovo men standing near the elevator door. Elevator reaches the ground floor, where all wish to exit. Kosovo men wait for women to exit. International women do not yet fully understand elevator etiquette and wait for the men in front of them to exit. Elevator doors close and elevator is called back up, with no one having exited at the desired floor!
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