Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Elevator

We live on the fifth floor of an apartment building. One of our major criteria for a home in Copenhagen was that it must have an elevator. We wanted an elevator mainly so that we could transport Riley's stroller up and down without lugging it up stairs. Upon arriving at our home for the first time, we learned that the stroller doesn't fit in the elevator without being folded up. Not awesome.

There's a sign in the elevator that says: "3 Personer" and you can guess that a 3 personer isn't very big. It is basically a tiny wooden box. To add to the inconvenience of the elevator, it does not have doors that open themselves like our elevator in DC. Nope. This elevator has one set of doors that swing into the elevator making the small space even smaller and an outer door made of heavy metal that must be pushed open. This is not easy when you are carrying a baby and it's virtually impossible when you're carrying a baby and anything else.

Once you get past the inconvenient aspects, the 3 personer is kind of cool. It has glass windows and Riley loves saying hello and goodbye to each floor as we pass. It is smooth and quiet in its journey up and down and it feels old-fashioned in a good way. Plus, it still saves us from carrying Riley up and down five flights of stairs.

On our floor, the outer door of the elevator doesn't latch itself when left to close on its own. It needs an extra push. On occasion I have forgotten to make sure it's latched and the elevator has been stuck on our floor. This is annoying for Neil when he comes home and I am certain for all the people on floors 2 through 4. I am sure our neighbors have forgotten to be sure the door latched a time or two as well. But there are only two apartments on each floor, so if it's stuck up here it was either them or us.

On Tuesday, we went shopping at IKEA for some household items we need to finish moving in. Neil had to return the car to work and I ended up in our lobby with a bunch of stuff and a baby. I loaded the elevator with our things and carried Riley in an Ergo carrier. When we got to our floor, I propped the outside door open so the elevator would not leave with my IKEA purchases inside. As I was carefully removing things and putting them in the hall by my door I heard a neighbor yell from below to "close the elevator door!" I said something like, "I am getting my things out. I'm sorry!" and hurried to get the last of our things out of the elevator and let it go downstairs. Once the bathroom cabinet was out and in the hall I shut the outer door and said, "Here you go!"

I went inside and had a slightly uneasy feeling because the woman who had shouted a) sounded really annoyed and b) spoke in English which means she knew I was the one holding up the elevator.

By this morning, I had basically forgotten all about the Tuesday evening incident when I stepped into the elevator and read a sign that said "To make the elevator run please close the outer door." I thought, "Hmm, maybe other people are not remembering to close it too," and then I had my ah hah moment when I realized I was able to read the sign in the elevator which meant it was not in Danish like ALL the other signs in our building. Nope, this sign was in English and was for me. I couldn't decide if it was very rude to put a sign in the elevator in English, or very funny. I settled on rude but also hilarious and decided that since the sign was to me, I should reply on the sign. I wrote a little note on the bottom that said, "Hello Neighbors, We are very sorry for forgetting to latch the outer door. It sticks on our floor. We will do our best to always be sure it latches. Our apologies."

We'll see if the sign is still up tomorrow morning. Hopefully my neighbors accept my apology and don't hate the Americans on the 5th floor.

A slightly blurry photo of the sign and my reply


  1. From what I can tell from talking to people, the Danes come across as rude to us folk who are used to interacting in a more delicate way. I think what a Dane sees as just being informal, matter-of-fact and helpful can appear harsh or abrupt to us, but probably not meant to be rude. My two cents! Great blogging - looking forward to reading more. Det er superfantastisk!

  2. Love the blog and LOVE that you responded to the note! I would have done the same!

    I'm looking forward to reading all about your adventures!