If there is one social environment that encourages small talk more than any other, even around water coolers, it is in elevators. Conversations have to be kept to a minimum as journeys last only a few seconds and, as there are often other people in the lift, subject matter has to be limited so as not to cause offence by bitching about someone else or less importantly give any company secrets away.
As couriers spend a good proportion of the day riding in elevators we are privy to all sorts uninteresting chat. Usually talk concerns weather conditions being too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet. Another favourite theme is how many days of the week left till Friday or Christmas, depending on the time of year. This is commonly answered with a kind of sigh coupled with a raising of the chin, acknowledging the fact that yes indeed, it is only 4 ½ days till Friday.
Women will invariably lower their voice if others are in the lift, which achieves absolutely nothing. It is such a small space, everyone can here what is being said anyway. Occasionally men in suits will talk to each other in cliches, for example:
"Well as I said in the meeting, I want to make sure we are all singing from the same hymn sheet."
"Of course, but you don't want to over egg the pudding."
"Oh, I fully agree, and obviously the one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind…"
However, couriers regularly encounter business types with either a genuine fascination in our job, or who feel the need to at least say something whilst riding elevators. Questions asked are always roughly the same, and it becomes quite fun to offer some alternative answers. So here are some FAQ's couriers are always asked in elevators, along with suitable answers and also smart arse answers we would all like to use one day.
So you're a cycle courier then?
Smart arse answer: No, I am a Distribution Manager specialising in Nodal Logistics.
Does your job keep you fit?
A: Well, yes.
S A A: Not really. I'm just a downhill courier, it's the other lads who do the hard work and ride uphill.
How many Kilometres do you do each day?
A: Probably around 60-100km.
S A A: About 600-800km depending on whether I drive or cycle from my home in Hamilton.
Is it dangerous?
A: It's as dangerous as you make it.
S A A: Is what dangerous? Riding elevators? Most elevators have failsafe breaking mechanisms these days, you know.
(If it's raining) I bet you hate your job when it rains?
A: Any day is a good day! You get used to the rain.
S A A: Is it raining? I hadn't noticed, I ride so fast it normally dries straight off me.
(If it's sunny) You must love your job on a day like this?
A: Any day is a good day buddy! But this is like a bonus.
S A A: Not really, I am a Vampire and expect to disintegrate when I step out of this lift.
Usually by this stage the elevator reaches its destination, and those few moments of meaningless small talk are over. It's not that we don't like chatting to people, but if by chance you do get to ride elevators with couriers, ask them something different, such as "what's better for cycling; a Chelsea bun or ginger slice?" Any courier will know have an answer to that one.