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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Ropes: They're Not Just For Sailors Anymore


A young, rather plumpish woman got on the elevator today, pressing the button that would take her from the 43rd to the 44th floor.

Let us pause.

She needed the elevator in order to go from forty-three to forty-four.

In my book, riding an elevator up one floor calls for a darn good staring. I’d do more, but I’m pretty sure I signed something years ago on proper, Midwestern behavior which precludes any acts which may be perceived as confrontational.

I looked her over, in a sideways, non-obtrusive sort of way. As I say, she was young, plumpish, pink-cheeked and bright-eyed. She appeared to be un-drugged, un-saddled by crutches or noticeable spasms.

Of course, it’s not up to me whether or not she takes a flight of very pleasantly designed, open-air style steps from one lousy floor to another. She was, after all, going up a flight and not down. Perhaps she has a fear of thigh muscles. Perhaps it is her first day on prosthetic feet. Perhaps she had signed an agreement whereby she has agreed to leave the stair-climbing to the professionals.

Who am I to say?

When I first started working downtown, almost nine years ago, it was a whole new world for me: Elevators! Skyways! Shopping and restaurants and dry cleaners and banks! You can walk for literal miles in Minneapolis without going outside, a lovely thing indeed considering that Mother Nature, at this latitude, wants to kill you. I was taken around, shown the “regular” beggars, where to go for late-afternoon treats, advised to stay to the right on the escalators and to not waste people’s time with taking elevators only one floor.

That’s right. I was shown The Ropes.

I suspect that not everyone is being made aware of The Ropes, what they entail or even, possibly, that they exist.

And that’s sad.

Like the young man who shoved his way to the front of the line waiting to get on the afternoon bus, telling his girlfriend “There ain’t no line for the bus, you just go to the front”, I harbor concerns that The Ropes are not being shared; and while I would personally like to see them posted somewhere, or, in the case of this young man, beaten into him with a length of rubber hose (to be followed with a politely worded explanation and maybe a late-afternoon treat), I worry others may see this need for regulated civil behavior, on even a superficial level, as infringing on their “rights”.

And it is here that I’d like to propose a toast: Here’s to all those who give up their seats for the elderly and infirm, to those who say “thank you” and “excuse me”, to those who wait patiently – and to those who, upon reflection, allow that not all infirmities are identifiable by sight.

And here’s to those willing to share The Ropes.

I raise my glass to you.

56 comments:

Bossy Betty said...

Amen, Pearl! I agree with you on this subject. I can think of several people who need to be shown the ropes.

Pearl said...

Betty, there should be Rope community ed classes...

Shelly said...

Not all that long ago in the wild west days in these parts, if someone was showing you the ropes, it meant something entirely different. But yeah, I think each metro area should have a ropes coordinator. Kind of roll them out with the welcome wagon.

R. Jacob said...

talk about tying up loose ends...

Pearl said...

Shelly, there are Wild West Ropes? I didn't know! (I think someone needs to explain the Wild West Ropes to me!)

Pearl said...

R., ba-dum-bum. :-)

Shelly said...

Well, they were the kind that went around your neck back then.

Laurel's Quill said...

I agree, Pearl. When I broke my arm a couple of years ago ( my first ever broken bone and cast) I gained a new found respect for the infirmed. All I could think about was the people who couldn't shower or wash their hair by themselves for the rest of their lives. Humility....

Pearl said...

Shelly, Ah, yes! For horse-jacking and the like. :-)

Pearl said...

Laurel, I had an eardrum blow up once -- totally deaf in one ear for about four months! -- and gained quite a bit of empathy for the hard-of-hearing.

Nezzy said...

Well put Miss Pearl, I totally agree with ya.

Where have all the manners gone???

Don't even get me started on parents not bein' parents...'Nuff said!!!

Have yourself a fantastically blessed day dear one!!! :o)

Daisy said...

Consideration of others, manners - may they thrive!

Eva Gallant said...

It does seem sometimes that manners have gone the way of the dial phone.

TexWisGirl said...

amen. :)

(and perhaps my horse's lineage extends back to connect to the minnesota biteys). :)

esbboston said...

I just recently b0ught a 75 f00t r0pe in 0rder t0 r00f a sec0nd st0ry h0use with pr0per safety. If y0u need t0 b0rr0w it, just let me kn0w, its designed f0r rather plump pe0ple, test rating 0f 375 p0unds. I am in the middle 0f writing the r00fing st0ry, h0pe t0 p0st it s00n ...

Pat said...

HEAVEN HELP ANY STRANGER WHO TRIES TO PUSH TO THE FRONT OF THE QUEUE IN THIS NECK OF THE WOODS. HE'D BE LYNCHED.
AND I'D SIT WATCHING WITH MY KNITTING - LIKE MADAME DEFARGE

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

The "ropes" boil down to common sense and good manners. Now who, I wonder, is responsible for teaching those? ahem. Just sayin', you know?

CarrieBoo said...

I could have done with a Rope show-er in Toronto. That place was harsh. I hated elevators (or rather being trapped in a confined space with other city folk) so much that I often walked up 18 flights of stairs in rush hour. There's a reason I now live in a small town of 15k.

P.S. I love your book... and your signature and bird creature in the back there. You are most certainly a "werd nerd". It was great to have and hold the wonder that is you in mi' hands. So to speak. ;) Thank you!!!

P.P.S. How many shoes do you own now? And are they all brown?

Silver Strands said...

... and MY glass is raised as well! Well written.

vanilla said...

Indeed, Pearl, you should see the need for civil behavior as an infringement on "someone's" rights; for that seems to be the slough into which we are driving this bus.

Yours for more civility, a greater understanding of "the ropes" and fewer one-floor elevator riders!

Douglas said...

There is one other reason she may have chosen the elevator over the stairway... she was paid by the hour.

I, too, chose the stairs more often than my co-workers... even though I was paid by the hour... I walked down 2 (sometimes 3) floors and up 1 (sometimes 2) for two reasons: 1- it took longer to wait for the elevator and 2- it was pretty much the only exercise I got at the time.

I only wish those stairways had been the delightful ones you described... ours were dank and dark and often laced with toxic mold.

Pearl said...

Nezzy, oh, aren’t you sweet?! I sometimes wonder if we have societal expectations of this country anymore. Do we open doors for women (when possible)? Do we give up our seats for the elderly, the infirm, the heavily pregnant? Do we say “excuse me”? Maybe if we could type them up, agree to agree on it during some televised town hall meeting…

Daisy, easy to tell who has ‘em and who doesn’t!

Eva, that made me smile.

TexWisGirl, :-) Horses, cats. Both far too smart at times!

Esb, you are such a weirdo. :-) Keep up the good work!!

Oh, Pat, how I would love to see that in action. I don’t know why we aren’t that way in the U.S. We like to act tough, I think, but I also think we’re afraid of getting hurt. (BTW, the young man and his girlfriend who pushed to the front? I actually looked her in the eye and said, “Don’t listen to him. There’s a line.” But that’s another story.) Oh, and p.s. – had to look up the Madame DeFarge line – and here I thought she was a blogger!! Well, she is, but thank you for teaching me something today. :-)

Delores, we need to send a search party for the folks responsible. I wonder where they could be??

CarrieBoo, small towns have their places, no doubt. And thank you so much for the book feedback! I eat that sort of thing up. As for how many shoes I own, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. :-) I probably have – all styles included – less than 25 pairs. They’re not all brown, but I’m looking down at today’s and THEY are!

Silver Strands, thank you, ma’am!

Vanilla, well, I think we’ve just gotten silly in our behavior. Some of the things one witnesses (in a big city you’re more likely to see it, but it goes on in small towns as well) makes you pause and think, “oh, are we doing that now?” I blame people who think that small children swearing is cute, that their wants are the same as their needs, and television. Wheeeeeeee! Look at me gettin’ all cranky over here!! :-) Naptime already?!

Pearl said...

Ah, Douglas. Excellent point of view. You just might be right there...

Leenie said...

I thought "showing the ropes " was a nautical term but then was curtly informed those long stringy thingys on boats are "lines."

I DO like your method of discipline.--Get their attention with a length of rubber hose and then later show you mean no serious harm by offering an afternoon treat.

shelly said...

Love it! I spit my coffee over her first day with prosthetic feet! Lazy and self serving has become the norm in our society. I'm all for someone showing them the ropes and definitely a little flogging for morale sake ;)

Joanne said...

Yea for civility and manners. I know someone who remarks aloud on pajama bottoms in the store on seeing a pair. I can't decide if it's a lesson in grooming or rudeness.

Pearl said...

Leenie, oh, is that right?! Shoot. :-) There goes the title. I really do need to do more research on things...

shelly, I'm all about making people laugh until they spit out liquids. :-)

Joanne, oh, it's a fine line. I, too, know someone who will comment under his breath about such things. I don't like it, but I get his point...

bill lisleman said...

For many years I worked in 3 story building that had an elevator. I seldom use it. I took the stairway which was plain inside concrete walls and not real clean. Any visitors would be taken to the elevators. Office workers need to take advantage of exercise opportunities. The ropes - could you imagine if we rope climbed between floors. Now that would be an arms race.

Craver Vii said...

I'll check to see if I have a spare electric cattle prod for ya. They're handy at crowded bus stops. You don't really have to jolt anyone, as long as they see the business end of the stick buzzing and crackling.

Hmmm... I better not. It's difficult sometimes to strike a balance between justice and civility. I wish people would be more considerate in the first place, so that I wouldn't have to wrestle with thoughts of revenge.

Nevermind, I found it! (Bzzt!) Whoa, it's got a good charge on it, too. Have a great time; wave it around like a fairy godmother or something. ;-)

Lisa Golden said...

I feel like I spend half my time showing my own kids The Ropes. Not that it always takes, but that's what the rubber hose is for.

I wish others would try to impart some of that courtesy and manners stuff to their children because it definitely makes things less chaotic.

A toast to you, Pearl, for a great post.

Al Penwasser said...

Using an elevator to go up ONE flight of stairs?
Methinks I've solved the mystery of why she was "plumpish."

L-Kat said...

I've been missing from the blog scene for about a week, and I missed my daily Pearl posts! This is a great one to come back to: well said, Pearl! I know I'm relatively young, but I catch myself saying "Kids nowadays...." quite often. Dang youngin's.

TV's Take said...

Those toasts should be filled with milk bottles because the ropes all need to be taught to the youngest souls.
Great post. Thanks for stopping by. Love all those skyways in MPLS.

Sioux said...

Why don't you quit your day job and go on the road with your "Ropes" workshop? In an all-day conference, you could share the ropes with all the participants and whip them into shape.

The WORLD needs you to answer this calling, Pearl.

Happy Frog and I said...

Fantastic post Pearl and one I agree with wholeheartedly. I remember a time when everyone said thank you to the bus driver when they left the bus but now it's usually just me and my other half who do. I noticed loads of people pushing in for the bus at the weekend rather than queueing at the weekend. We need to try to spread the word of 'the ropes'.

Dr Max Tunguska said...

The chap pushing in on the bus queue is definitely a case of "request air strike at my GPS coordinates". Hate people like that.

Gosh, how much would I love this number of comments on my stuff. Double digits would have me cracking open the champagne.

Gigi said...

I can think of more than a few that need to be shown the ropes....and then be beaten with them if they didn't fall into line immediately.

River said...

Absolutely there should be more rope showing. With maybe a rope burn or two for those who still don't get it.

Maybe the young plumpish woman is from a very small town and elevators are still a novelty for her?
I take the stairs as often as I can, even going up until my legs ache, then catching the elevator the rest of the way if I need to.

NotesFromAbroad said...

I am ( to my husbands embarrassment sometimes) too helpful to the very old and the very young.
But they like it and it makes me feel good so I will keep doing it.
( see the stubborn jaw thing happening)

But I am also a Firm believer in telling someone the Ropes if they are like the boy at the bus stop.
No, honey, that is not the way it is, now take your girlfriend and stand back there ... no, I am waiting for my friend .. Kong.
Thanks, bye ~

Now about the plump miss ...
Someone ( Pearl ) needs to mention to her that in that building, they have hidden cameras in the elevators .. and the elevators tend to drop sometimes.

SOL's view said...

Oh my. I'm in your last paragraph and yet when it comes to buses, I do what that young man did...

I guess it comes from waiting for buses with so many students that if you aren't in front, you miss your bus and hence your connection. Or you have to stand because they don't give up their seats. Or if they do, it's the GIRLs who give them up....

kj said...

Pearl, yup. We've lost our manners. All the more reason why those of us who know better should do better every chance we can. I LOVE to model kind and sweet and I love to smile. I work with kids sometimes and damn if most of them don't respond back

I'm also not beyond tripping jerks :-)

And try to push your way on the bus and I'll throw a frozen avocado at you

Xoxo
kj

Mr. Charleston said...

Now, now Pearl. You know that gravity is four times heavier on the 44th floor than at ground level. That poor girl would have to trudge up the equivalent of four flights of stairs at such altitude. At least, that's what the dumbass thinks.

Amber Star said...

When I read eb's post I thought my eyes had gone wonky on me now. Clever thing he is.

Having reached the age where I'm so happy if someone helps me by opening a door or giving me their seat I nearly cry. When I was young all that door opening didn't really matter and I was happy to tell a young man that I was a well liberated woman and was strong enough...blah blah. Sorry we goofed it all up for you young women.

Hope your week goes well and it is nearly the WEEKEND. I'm not sure it means as much to me anymore, but I'm glad to see it.

Dan Kent said...

Well I feel like I'm on the ropes every day when I go to work. Is that the same thing?

Diane said...

May their numbers increase. Please.

HermanTurnip said...

Yeah, it's called "manners". I would have given the "stink" AND "evil" eye to both the elevator woman and rude bus patron...

..but that's just because I come from a vexing family.

jenny_o said...

Pearl, I agree that manners and civility have taken a licking the last number of years. But the thing that makes me extra happy today is that you included a reminder to us that "...not all infirmities are identifiable by sight". Chronic pain, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart problems, mental illnesses, and on and on - if you or a loved one becomes a member of the invisible illness club, you never again assume anything about anyone's choices. Love your gentle way of pointing this out, along with the main gist of your post, and thank you!

SherilinR said...

my goodness! beaten into him with a length of hose? that sounds positively northeastern of you!

NellieVaughn said...

I was raised in a very bad neighborhood. If you weren't shown the ropes, it could cost you your life. It was important to be considerate if you liked your body to remain free of bullet holes.

The Elephant's Child said...

I suspect that some people need the ropes tattooed on a body part that they are fond of, and will therefore examine regularly.

Antares Cryptos said...

I sense that next time she might have to climb a rope to get to the next floor.

the walking man said...

We here in the eastern end of the Midwest gave up ropes for direct confrontation a half century ago. It is often not as pleasant as rope but then on the other hand when you have forty people suggesting you get to the back of the line...

The Jules said...

Ah, Pearl, you are like a beacon of civilisation on the rocky shores of modern etiquette.

We have ropes here in Englandshire, but they're getting a bit frayed.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

It's so odd to me, Pearl, having grown up in - and currently living in - the country, while now working in the city. What is it about urban settings that turns people into such a-holes? Because of the a-holes, sometimes I find myself leaning towards a-hole, losing my 'ropes' training.

Kara said...

Imagine living in a country like China where lining up politely in queues is unheard of and subway workers have to shove the riders onto the cramped trains so they can get the doors closed.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm all for teaching the ropes. I do it loudly to my kids for the benefit of everybody within earshot because I'm helpful that way.