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The Elevator Connection

Updated on February 13, 2013

Do you ever press the wrong button?

Woman pressing an elevator button.
Woman pressing an elevator button. | Source

Several years ago, a very ordinary event changed my perspective on the impact of human interactions. I had just left my college library and was making my way to the elevator, arms leaden with my textbook and other school supplies. I had trouble pushing the elevator button to go up, but the telltale ding went off after a couple of seconds. "This was lucky," I thought, because sometimes I had to wait a while before an elevator reached the floor I was on.

However, I was surprised to see that the arrow above the elevator was signaling to go down.The doors opened, and a group of chattering college students waited for the person who had pushed the button to come aboard. No one boarded, of course, and I stood dumbly as the elevator doors closed on the still chattering crowd. Almost no one’s expression had changed; they just hadn’t noticed or cared. I realized, of course, that being unable to see what I was doing, I had pushed the wrong button. It was a seemingly small thing, but the event really struck a chord.

Every little thing we do has the potential to have a huge effect. I have heard many true stories of how even a smile can go as far as literally saving a person’s life. Of course, the person giving that smile had no idea what was going on in the recipient’s head, and so it is with all of us. We have no idea how our actions are contributing to the world during every second of the day. To me, those actions include not only conscious ones but also those that perhaps we don’t even think about. After watching the elevator doors close, I pushed the “up” button and wondered how my action had affected those people. I had delayed them unnecessarily for perhaps less than ten seconds, but what would have happened in those ten seconds for them? Of course, I probably delayed myself even more. This is also an important point, since it’s possible that something significant might have occurred had I pressed the right button from the start. And then again, maybe not.

A mass e-mail I once received talked about the worth of various blocks of time and the people who, through their experiences, could tell us their worth. I no longer remember who was listed as one who knew the worth of one second, but perhaps one who has gone through a near-death experience would be a case in point. A good example of this would be the classic movie directed by Frank Capra, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The protagonist, George Bailey, played by well-known actor Jimmy Stewart, dreams of leaving his small town behind to explore the world. However, his deep care for the town and a series of events shatter those dreams repeatedly. At one point, George is deeply depressed and feels that everyone would have been better off had he never been born. He is then shown what his town would have been like if he had not been born - quite the opposite of what he felt.

I often feel a bit overwhelmed when I read articles in which the author tries to impress upon his or her readers the importance of doing this or that. I’m not saying that pushing the wrong elevator button by accident is a terrible thing. In fact, I have since repeated my mistake on occasion. My goal is to make you (and me) think, to encourage you to realize the importance of each and every person in the world. People share their lives with others, and every action we do makes an impression in the world. Maybe it’s a small impression and maybe it’s not, but just as millions of individuals make up the inhabitants of the world, millions of small impressions shape the lives of those millions of people.


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    • Chava Drummond profile image

      Chava Drummond 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thank you so much, Easylearningweb! And thank you for sharing such a beautiful story!!

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 5 years ago

      Great first really made me think about what I have done lately that may have really effected someone's day. I thought of something...lately, there have been a lot of little girl scouts with their moms, selling girl scout cookies. Many times, a lot of us may walk pass them while entered a grocery store...I like to at least say "No thanks" if I'm not buying any; but lately I did something different. I went up the little girl scout and handled her two dollars, smiled and said, I don't need any cookies, but I'd like to make a donation. She was very happy and smiled a big grin and said thank you. That made me feel good. So I continued to do that a couple more times when I saw different girl scouts with their moms. In this day and age, when we are watching our weight and our wallet, I figured why not still contribute a little and make their day, and it made my day too, to see them smile. :-)

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