The old technologies of short-range vertical transport seem to provoke humans to raw expressions of impatience. Anger at elevators rises within seconds, experience shows. A good waiting time is in the neighborhood of fifteen seconds. Sometime around forty seconds, people start to get visibly upset.

The calculus of the elevator designers has doled out the precious seconds, taken them back, and doled them out again many times during the history of the past century. "Much time is lost by slow moving passengers who make no effort to hurry," said the president of Otis in 1953. Those dratted passengers. "They know the attendant will wait for them. . . . But the impersonal operatorless elevator starts closing the door after permitting you a reasonable time to enter or leave."It was not just the elevators that would gain intelligence and efficiency. He added, "People soon learn to move promptly." And so we have.