Friday, August 13, 2010

Lucky For Me

Elevator Goes to 13 

I work on the 14th floor of an office building that does not have a 13th floor.  And, well, you know what that means...

I am living a lie.

Whenever I enter the elevator and push the button for "14," I think - "Who are we fooling?" and "How silly!"

But I guess for some people - those who suffer from triskaidekaphobia (superstitious fear of the number 13) - it is not so silly.

These triskaidekaphobia-ites apparently have a lot of pull with building contractors.  I read an article that stated "as many as 85 percent of high rises in the world don't have a 13th floor," based on an audit of buildings with Otis-brand elevators.  I'm not sure if that's entirely accurate (boys and girls, you shouldn't believe everything you read on the Internet), but I do know that certain numbers do invoke superstitions the whole world over.

For instance, the number 4 is an especially unlucky number in China (apparently in Mandarin, it sounds an awful lot like the word for 'death'). Chinese hospital buildings routinely omit 4th floors.  Thirteen is still unlucky in China, too; after all, it's numbers (1+3) add up to that very scary 4.

If numbers can add up to death, so too can they add up to life.  In Jewish numerology, eighteen is a lucky number because the Hebrew word for life (chai, as in "l'chaim!") is spelled with two letters whose numeral values add to eighteen.  (cheit = 8; yod = 10)

If you want to know a little more about Jewish numerology (and who doesn't?), it so happens that thirteen doesn't make for such a bad number therein.  In fact, some nice words add up to thirteen (like ahava, the Hebrew word for love, and echad, the word for one (as in "God is one")).  Children become adults at thirteen (the age of bar/bat mitzvahs), and God is said to have Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

So it's not all bad then, is it?

I'll leave you now with a quote from the great businessman, Michael Scott: "I'm not superstitious...but I'm a little stitious."

Item of note: The Empire State Building has an accurately numbered 13th floor.  Whaddya know.

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