Society

That Elevator 'Close Button' Doesn't Actually Work

| by John Freund

The "close door" button in an elevator is a scam -- and has been for years. 

According to elevator manufacturers, the close door button remains in most elevators to give the user a sense of control, when in reality the button does not work, the Daily Mail reports.

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In 1990, Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Act, which mandated that elevators must stay open long enough for disabled people to enter. That means that elevator manufacturers stopped allowing users to close the doors early with the close door button.  

Karen W. Penafiel, executive director of the National Elevator Industry, told The New York Times that because most elevators have a 25-year lifespan, ones with working close door buttons are likely no longer in operation.  

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The button works for firefighters or maintenance workers, but only with a code or designated key. 

Penafiel also states that the button remains in elevators to help give people a sense of control over the surroundings. Psychologists claim that perceived control is important to keep things like depression at bay, which may be why other fake buttons exist without most people knowing. 

For example, most crosswalk buttons in New York City are fake. According to The New York Times, New York stopped allowing pedestrians to speed up the walk signals in 2004, but kept the buttons because they would cost $1 million to remove, and they also provide a sense of control for people.  

City figures estimate that 2,500 of the 3,250 crosswalk buttons in the city do not actually work. Other cities around the country have similar results. 

And in 2003, the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News found that many offices install dummy thermostats, to give workers a sense of control over the temperature, when in reality the room temperature is controlled by a single executive.  

So the next time you’re frantically pushing the door close button trying to save yourself several seconds in the morning, remember that it may all be for nothing.  

Sources: Daily Mail, The New York Times / Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowsky/Flickr

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