In a striking demonstration of the power of collective behavior and the human will, seven people in a downtown hotel elevator yesterday silently agreed to behave as if a runner who had just joined them did not smell like a dirty, sweat-drenched diaper.
The runner, an unidentified man in his late 20s to early 30s, was apparently returning from a run around 5 p.m. when he stepped into the car in the hotel's lobby.
Witnesses described him as sweaty, sporting earbuds and wearing running gear that included "soggy, stanky-a** shorts." They contrasted this with the elevator's other users, most of whom were dressed in "athleisure" apparel, jeans and T-shirts, or business casual attire and smelling faintly of soap and fresh laundry.
"The doors were just beginning to close," said one man, who asked to remain anonymous. "It was pretty crowded in there already. Then Mr. Runner Man sort of jogs up, yelling, 'Hold the door,' so we do."
"Then he walks in, and wow," the man said. "This guy is ripe."
He and others from the elevator described the man's odor variously as "foul," like "B.O. times a thousand," and, in an apparent reference to the film Anchorman, smelling "like Bigfoot's d***."
Despite this, every occupant of the elevator—including the runner himself—instantly and wordlessly opted to ignore the stench, acting as if everything were completely normal.
Most stared straight ahead, or at the slowly changing floor numbers on the screen above the doors, witnesses said. One woman looked at her phone. Another hummed softly as, she later reported, she watched "at least three drops of sweat fall from (the runner's) crotch onto the floor."
The runner stepped off the elevator on the 18th floor, witnesses said.
Contacted later, a hotel spokesperson could "neither confirm nor deny" reports that a custodial worker had spritzed every surface of the elevator car with Febreze.