Grandma’s Ice Breakers

Living is a high rise means that you spend quite a bit of time riding in elevators.  I sometimes see familiar faces; however, usually I stand among strangers.

The time we spend together is often awkward as we count moments.  Usually, I find myself staring at the floor or watching the numbers descending overhead 15, 14, 13…2, almost there.

One of us may break the ice with a comment about the weather like, “Wow, sure is cold out there!”  The other nods and agrees.  “Keep warm.”  Such elevator talk is so dull and predictable.

My grandmother seemed to have an interesting way of breaking the ice during awkward moments.  I remember being a teenager traveling with her and my older brother on an Amtrak train heading from Chicago to Salt Lake City.  There were hours and hours spent smelling diesel and looking out the window at nothing but flat land racing past.

There we were all crammed into a train car with seats facing each other.  Suddenly, my grandma blurted out, “So, is anyone constipated?”  After a moment or two of being frozen with embarrassment, I replied, “What?  Why would you even ask such a question?” She looked rather bewildered and a little hurt and shared that she was only trying to make conversation.

Why couldn’t she just comment about the weather?

After all of these years, her memory has inspired me to try to be more creative with my elevator talk.

For instance, sometimes I say to a person getting off the elevator before me, “Thank you for joining us for the ride.” Breaking the silence during the ride with, “I’m so glad we have this quiet time together,” usually gets a chuckle or two.

It also makes the ride a little more fun when the doors open revealing a new person and I say, “Hey, need a lift?”  It is more fun riding with people who have smiles on their faces rather than blank stares at the floor.

Perhaps, I’m working my nerve up to someday blurt out, “By the way, is anyone constipated?”  After all, they say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.



5 thoughts on “Grandma’s Ice Breakers

  1. hahahahaha, your grandma sounds like a woman after my own heart! What a thing to say to break the ice! I do like all your follow-up lines here. It’s such a strange thing, that silent exchange in the elevator on a daily basis. You take me back to my dorm days when last I had that experience and how awkward and charged up those rides could be. Excellent slice, as always!


  2. I love your story. I often talk to strangers. Maybe it’s a southern thing. When I visited a friend in Boston and spoke to strangers on public transportation she was amazed/horrified. I didn’t ask if they were constipated..that would have deserved horror! The funny thing was they were Canadian and we were the only people on the whole train speaking.


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