They are wearing slacks and button up shirts, a cheap tie scattered here and there. They seem comfortable in these clothes, the pale blue stripes fitting over their fat bellies like a second skin. The clothes may be considered professional, but these men choose to wear them because they couldn't imagine wearing anything else.
They come off as salesmen. Perhaps they do not actually sell things. Perhaps they make deals or form alliances. It doesn't really matter. They are the type of men who think in terms of networking and angles. When you see them walk into a room, you know they are there because they want something from you.
One of them says something to me, which I do not hear above the Tool blaring in my noise canceling headphones. I watch his friends stifling giggles, acting as though they are school boys watching some clever prank in progress.
I look intensely put out as I remove one earphone, and wait for him to repeat himself.
I always make a point to display my annoyance when a stranger ignores my obvious desire to be left alone, and demands that I remove my headphones to give them my attention. It doesn't seem to make any difference. I don't think the kind of person who ignores all of the other signals that I do not wish to interact with them are likely to pick up on one more. But I do it anyway, because I believe in social pressure. Besides, it's more fun that way.
"Are you the one who pushed that up button?" he asks. His tone is one of affront, but it is belied by the mischievousness behind his eyes, and the expectant attention of his friends.
"Yes," I reply.
"We didn't want to go up. We want to go down," he accuses.
I don't have to feign the withering look I give him. "Then perhaps you should have looked at the indicator before stepping into the elevator."
The men laugh uproariously at this, as though I had just provided the unexpectedly perfect punch line to their joke.
"She's got you there!" one of them manages to get out between guffaws.
The elevator door opens. I hurriedly squeeze between them, glad at least to have learned that my floor is not their destination.