Close door buttons on elevators are designed to be utterly useless

Elevator doors will close when they darn well please.
Elevator doors will close when they darn well please.
Image: Reuters/Chris Helgren
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When you’re in a hurry, simply impatient, or trying to avoid whoever’s walking down the corridor, repeatedly jabbing the close button on elevator doors can feel like an effective way to speed things up. But, in truth, it’s just for show. Manufacturers know that riders like to press this button, but it simply doesn’t make doors close any faster.

Karen Penafiel, executive director of the National Elevator Industry trade group, told the New York Times that the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act rendered the close button obsolete. The law states that elevator doors have to remain open long enough for those using crutches, a cane, or wheelchair to enter.

And so, no matter how many times the button is pressed, “The riding public would not be able to make those doors close any faster,” said Penafiel.

Those with keys or code to the elevator system (typically firefighters or those carrying out repairs) are able to use the button to effectively close doors.

For mere pedestrian riders, however, the button does naught. And unfortunately, the New York Times reports, the close door button isn’t the only functionless button in your life. Pedestrian crosswalk buttons won’t make the traffic signals change any faster, and several offices have admitted to installing fake thermostats so employees feel as though they’re controlling the temperature.

But these buttons don’t simply exist for mere trickery. Pushing buttons, even when they don’t really do anything, can honestly make us feel better. After all, psychologists believe the perception of control is beneficial in helping to reduce stress. So go ahead and keep jabbing that button. It will make you feel better, even if it doesn’t get you anywhere faster.