While talking with Oak Park Township Trustee Eric Davis at George’s Restaurant on Oak Park Avenue next door to Wednesday Journal’s offices, the interview veered toward the Township’s new senior services office right across the street. Davis helped get that building bought and built. He suggested taking a brief tour of the building after the interview (since I’ve yet to venture inside since its opening). The space looks nice. But while getting on the elevator Davis let out a little unknown secret about the “close door” button in that one and many elevators — those buttons don’t work. They never do. They’re not connected to anything; they’re just there. The “open door” buttons work, but I guess why have an open door button and not one to close the door, even though pushing it doesn’t do anything.

Davis said he’d heard about the close-door button during his career and that it’s mentioned in a documentary about elevators. Maybe the close-door button mystery was only a mystery to me. I’d never known or heard that the button doesn’t work.

Still thought it was a cool fact, or fake-out, though.

Davis said a rep from the Otis Elevator company in the documentary confirmed the fake, I mean fact.

Further investigating this thing online myself, apparently talk of the fake elevator button phenomena is alive and well. I even ran across a New Yorker Magazine article about “The lives of elevators” where the fake button apparently is mentioned. Reading what looked like a 2000-plus word article during a Wednesday morning deadline was something I had to pass on, however. Other articles seemed to confirm that many if not all elevator close-door buttons don’t work. And they suggest that the buttons are there to give passengers a since of control, a kind of placebo effect.

And come to think of it, I’ve pushed many a close-door button in my life–sometimes constantly–only to see that the doors didn’t always close immediately.  

The things you learn.

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