Once Up, Twice Down (not as depressing as it sounds)

This week I made a discovery.

Just in the way Captain Cook “discovered” Australia, my “discovery” isn’t new to everyone. It’s just new to me.

While standing at a bank of lifts in the hospital I noticed that when an elevator arrived and was going up it would ding once, and ding twice when going down. Hashtag observation.

I was more excited by this than a grown-up should be. As I made my way through the hospital, I tested the other bank of lifts in Block D, then the lifts in Block C, Block B and Block A. Hashtag curious.

Cairns Hospital from the shipping channel

From L-R: Block A, Block B, Block C & Block D. Source: https://instagram.com/p/3VfQHYKB_a/

That’s science baby: make an observation, come up with a hypothesis, then repeatedly test it to see if holds true. As it happens, all of the hospital lifts beep once if they’re going up and beep twice if they’re going down. Sample size: 1 hospital, 5 banks of lifts. Hashtag sciency.

Naturally, I tweeted and facebooked about it. Hashtag share the love.

It seems that the one-up two-down audible alarm holds true unless the lifts/buildings are old and/or have lifts which do not announce their arrival with an audible sound at all. Hashtag stealthy.

Anyway, I’m still intrigued by my one-ding-up-two-dings-down discovery. For me it raises two questions and a hypothesis:

Question 1: What else is happening right in front of me that I’m not noticing?

Question 2: What other secret tips and tricks do vision-impaired people have that they’re not telling us?

Hypothesis: Even when the big stuff isn’t going all that well, there’s joy to be had in the small stuff.

End Notes

There is a fun discussion about this subject on Reddit, see “Life Pro Tips: Arriving elevator dings once if going up, twice if going down

Do the lifts/elevators in your hospital/office/apartment beep once on the way up and twice on the way down? I’m keen to hear from you comments/responses are welcome in the space below.

Paul McNamara, 14th November 2015
Short URL: meta4RN.com/ding

5 thoughts on “Once Up, Twice Down (not as depressing as it sounds)

  1. Michelle K

    It would be so interesting to do different sensory deprivation tasks and yes, see what “we’re missing out on”. Interesting that something very subtle and unnoticeable to most of us, would be something heavily relied upon by another group. I blindfolded my 5 year old (great parenting) a few weeks ago and led him around after he asked what it meant if someone was blind. Didn’t take him long to start pointing out changes in ground surface and direction of sound. I wonder how much you could enhance your spidey-senses by training yourself in this way?


  2. Christian Sinclair (@ctsinclair)

    Back in 2002, when I was an internal medicine resident, I also discovered this. Being on-call and walking around the hospital late at night makes it much easier to observe these things. It is handy if you are around the corner from the elevators and need to know if you should hurry and catch it. Important to note that this is not quite universal, but is very common. I try to observe for each building I go to.


  3. Susan

    This was a huge discovering for me also, just yesterday. But it wasn’t observation on my part, but rather someone telling me. This after I’d ridden these same elevators at work for 11 years! It’s the little things. And yes, it also has me wondering what else I haven’t noticed!


  4. Todd Hunter

    I live in a apartment building in the uk and our lifts/elevators ding on arrival I never really thought about much it until I read something on a London metro forum and someone mentioned the once up twice down dings. Our lifts were I live ding once on the ground floor and twice on the floor where I live the 6th floor there’s 10 in total – my theory was that it dinged once on the ground floor as it can only travel in one direction ie up, and on my floor, dinged twice as it can travel in two directions.



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