They say that chivalry is dead, true gentlemen are a rare breed. How often is is that you see men offering their places on a bus or the MRT/LRT to women taking a ride? To say nothing of elderly women, expecting women, and women with disabilties.
But there is another area where chivalry is dying, where sheer laziness rears its ugly head, where boorishness rules. It’s the elevator. I say this because, accompanying my wheelchair-bound father to the malls, we sometimes find it difficult to use an elevator, because it is already occupied by able-bodied people who, in all honesty, could have trudged to the escalators and ridden those. This happened last Wednesday (July 15), at the Shangri-La EDSA, where after spending dinner at a second-floor restaurant with my sister and her family, my parents, our caregiver and I trooped to the elevator lobby to bring us to the fifth floor where we’d walk over to the carpark. Each of the two elevators heading up opened at our floor, only to be full of people. None of them volunteered to be a Good Samaritan and give up their place so that we could enter. The second time it happened I said out loud that we really should be given priority as the doors were closing, enough for the occupants to hear and perhaps feel just a twinge of guilt. In the end, we took the elevator as it was going down so that we didn’t have to wait for it to go up again, and possibly be full again. And true enough, when we reached the basement, a gaggle of people was waiting at the lobby. Now many malls have signs advising patrons to give priority to the mobility-impaired; but while the able-bodied are willing to yield if both want to enter the elevator, it’s a totally different story when the able-bodied is already inside the elevator and the mobility-impaired needs to enter. While occupants might not be expected to give up their places in the elevator, it would be a sign of respect, sensitivity, and consideration if they voluntarily do so. In fact, I’d thank them on the spot.
Now the question I raise is: if you are able-bodied, not tired, and not accompanying a very young child, an elder, or a mobility-impaired person, what would you lose by riding the escalators, even if they are located some distance from the elevators? In a mall that’s only up to five stories, that’s not much of a drudge if you’re going from the bottom to the top (or vice-versa), you don’t have a lot of shopping bags with you, and you’re not in a hurry. Bust those butts and legs of yours and do a little more exercise. It’s not like you’re walking a marathon. Don’t let the convenience of the elevator spoil you. Same goes for the elevators at the MRT and LRT stations. I once admonished a group of teenagers who were crowding (and being a bit rowdy) in the elevator at SM Fairview where my Dad and I went several years ago. As we got off, I told them, “Ang lakas-lakas ng katawan ninyo, nag-e-elevator pa kayo.” Spoiled. That’s what we’ve become. Contrast that to our caregiver, who related that in his hometown somewhere in Bicol, schoolkids walk kilometers to go to school (and back), rain or shine. And we complain about walking several meters to the escalator instead of using the elevator.