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August 18
2014 年8月18日

電梯的關鍵未必關鍵

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Close button進電梯,經常見到很多環肥燕瘦的手指,不約而同地伸出去,狠狠地把電梯裡那個「關」鍵連按個幾下。

這種現象港台常見,在大陸特別厲害。心想,可能是因為當事人為了趕急事,所以必須快快關上門。可是觀察一下,按「關」鍵的人站在電梯內的門口邊,除了急著按「關」鍵,電梯門關上後,好整以暇地站立一旁,若無其事,並不像要急著趕去什麼地方。之所以急按「關」鍵,只在下意識惦記著關門,好像阻止他人進入電梯似的。

有沒有什麼旁證可以支持以上的推論?

美國田納西大學土木工程系的韓教授,趁著訪問港台與深圳之便,用手機為電梯照了一些相片,明顯地看到電梯指示板上,「關」那個鍵又黑又髒,顯然曾被過度按壓。此外,你知道鍵盤上哪一個鍵最乾淨嗎?可以想像最少被使用的,就是最乾淨的那個「開」鍵了。這是因為一方面當電梯抵達乘客想要的樓層時,電梯門就會自動打開,所以沒有必要勞動他或她去按「開」鍵;另一方面,電梯搭乘者既然這麼急著按「關」鍵,當然就沒想按「開」鍵去給出電梯者提供方便,更沒有想要按「開」鍵放電梯外的人進來。「開」與「關」被使用的頻率如此這般的不對應,大大違背了自然界的對稱特性。

快快按「關」鍵的人一定想藉此動作節省個兩、三秒電梯關門的時間。但是這種作法只可能在人流稀少的時候產生些邊際效用;在人來人往、搭乘繁忙的時候,不耐煩地多按幾次「關」鍵,其實省不了時間。這樣的結論可以很容易在交通工程的模擬中得到答案。

有沒有想到:因為被按得過於頻繁,「關」鍵可能易壞,起不了期望的作用。所以,「關」鍵其實有時候並不關鍵!

註:本文曾載於聯合報(2014年7月30日)。

The heavily used "Close" button in a lift

Once getting into a lift, one may often see many hands, fat or slim, reaching out to the "Close" button and pressing it repeatedly.

It is a fairly common phenomenon in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but even more so in mainland China. At first I thought that the people who behaved in such a way were perhaps in a hurry and couldn't wait for the door to close by itself. But on second thought, I noticed that people who pressed the "Close" button seemed to be quite relaxed once the door was closed, not like people who were in a hurry to go anywhere. It seemed to me that the urge to press the "Close" button was to prevent other people from getting in.

You may wonder if there is any proof for such a conclusion.

Well, a friend of mine, a Professor Han of the Civil Engineering Department of University of Tennessee, US, took some pictures with his mobile phone of the button panels in lifts during his visit to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shenzhen, which showed clearly that the "Close" button was the most smeared and dirty due to heavy use.

By the way, do you know which button is the cleanest? It shouldn't require any imagination to realise that the cleanest is the "Open" button. The lift door opens automatically once it reaches the designated floor so there is no need to press the "Open" button. On the other hand, people pressing the "Close" button to keep other lift-riders out certainly may not offer to hold the "Open" button for the convenience of passengers exiting, let alone holding it for the waiting passengers outside. The discrepancy in the frequency of use of the "Open" and "Close" buttons violates the symmetrical features typical in nature.

People who habitually press the "Close" button repeatedly must feel they can save a couple of seconds. That might have some marginal effect when few people are using the lift, but it won't save any time when there are many people using the lift. Traffic simulation can verify this.

It may not have occurred to people pressing the "Close" button that frequent use of the "Close" button may cause it to malfunction, therefore pressing the "Close" button repeatedly may not save you any time!

Note:
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (30 July, 2014).

18 August, 2014

 

 

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