Liftboy - Does the elevator operator still exist?


Elevator operators are uniformed operators for elevators in large public or commercial buildings and hotels – a profession that is almost extinct.

The elevator operator is as old as the lift itself. It dates back to a time when cars were driven by a chauffeur, telephone calls connected by the friendly switchboard operator- and lifts set in motion by none other than the elevator operator.
White gloves were mostly worn, probably to give a more dignified touch when operating the buttons on the brass panel in the elevator car.

Over the years and decades, our relationship with all things electrical and mechanical has become simpler. Of course, we drive cars, sometimes even electric ones.
We use our smartphones without outside help. And we ride elevators as if it were the most commonplace thing in the world. And it actually is.

Only in a few places, those keen to remain a little less ordinary, has the aura of the elevator operator been preserved. In the traditional grand hotel, refuge of the rich, famous and beautiful, a few lift attendants remain. Orlim Oldemar Zurita Vargas helps guests of the venerable luxury hotel “Les Trois Rois” in Basel, Switzerland, to get to their destination. He is the last elevator operator in one of the big European grand hotels. And if there was such a thing as a preservation order for dying occupations, the native Ecuadorian would probably have a job for life.


Elevator operator lobby
Elevator operator

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