That awkward conversation in the lift


Get into the lift at work in town with 3 other people.

Everyone hits their floors and away we go.

Guy opposite me looks over (with that up and down eye movement so I’m already guessing his internal suspicions).

He says: You going up to the councillors floor?

Yes I am.

Are u going to see someone?

Yeah, I have a meeting.

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On the councillors floor, he asks again?

Yes, I say. I have a meeting.

He says, oh… so what do u do that brings u here in your “cool gear”? referring to how I’m dressed. In my respectful Samoan tone I reply: I’m a councillor. I represent the people of Manukau.

Silence, that awkward silence.

No more eye contact.

No more questions.

Just time to reflect on the unconscious bias that filled our little elevator environment, till I get off at level 26 and with that just another day at the office has begun.


Efeso Collins is an Auckland City Councillor 


    • LOL ! ! ! !

      If it encouraged that idiot to change his perception it would be fine.

      But I doubt that would have happened.

  1. Wtf no. That’s your elevator and who ever that was is your bitch. When it’s your elevator you don’t answer the questions, you ask them.

  2. I am curious and like asking people questions. If I’m asking a stranger something, I ask respectfully. That guy was extremely rude, pity the other person in the lift didn’t tell him that.

  3. Obviously Mr Collins face doesn’t fit to some self entitled , rate payer funded bigots.
    Polynesians should only be seen cleaning up our filth and scrubbing our toilets.
    Oh and running with jersey on eliminating all opposition and scoring tries.
    I have worked in organisations that are run only for the elite and have seen this behaviour before.
    If you are from a tinted country then you must be a staff member not a member of the club ” surely ”
    Mr Collins showed maturity and restraint in dealing with this arrogant arse.

  4. the trouble with the so called elite ( many who came of peasants) is they like the rest of us go to the toilet and does their shit not stink I think it does

  5. It’s great that people are sharing these kinds of experiences, and how they dealt with them. It’s important to show that racism isn’t just something that happened in the past. It’s equally important to show that one can face such ignorance with dignity, as Efeso Collins did that day.

  6. There’s quite a bit missing from this story, isn’t there?

    How come respectful Samoans in their best clobber are so rare in the lift? Why aren’t they frequent travellers?

    Which floor did the other guy get off at? Who works there? Might he have had reason in his life to be politely suspicious?

    Was the questioner satisfied? Or embarrassed? Or – what?

    Is it possible to imagine goodwill in this encounter? On both sides, obviously.

    Apart from getting off at Floor 26 what will the writer now be doing to make it easier for rate payers to recognise councillors in between of election years? If the person in the lift also came from Manukau – is he being represented?

    Unconscious bias…’The soft bigotry of low expectations.’

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