I went to the 2016 UXPA conference in Seattle and stayed in a tall hotel downtown. I took a shuttle from the airport and when we arrived I got out, thanked the driver and made my way to the front desk to do the usual check-in. When I was just about done the woman behind the counter told me “you’re on 33”. I smiled and said thank you. I like high floors because you usually get some sort of good view.
I walked through the lobby towards the elevator looking forward to getting to my room so I could relax for a while. I’m not a big fan of flying so the 5 hour flight from Atlanta was a bit stressful. I waited a minute or so for the elevator doors to open and I got in. When I turned to push the button for my floor I was confronted with the picture in this post.
I froze. What in the …? Where am I? As I tried to think about where to even start I could sense my stress gauge start to work its way back up to flying level. I seemed to find the ’30 something’ area but still wasn’t sure where my finger should go. 35? No. 31? No. The hole between 28 and 29? No! Where is 33? There’s two of them! I pushed what seemed to be the correct button and the elevator doors closed. Where was I going? I had no way to be sure but I was pretty certain my room wasn’t on the same floor that I started on so I had to do something. Up I went with the horrible confusion of numbers until the doors finally opened to what seemed to be my floor. I looked around for my room number, found it and slid in my key card. I made it!
We have to think beyond the belief that this is okay because the cognitive self will fix the problem. Our first encounter with our environment is, as Daniel Kahneman says, Mode 1, based on patterns and shortcuts and mental models. Why are you making me do all this work?