Yesterday I was in a work meting that included lunch. After we finished eating I picked up a plate left on the working table to move it to the serving area. As I did this a piece of cutlery fell on the floor.
I was about to move when one of my colleagues anxiously asked me if it had been the knife that had fallen. I replied yes and was taken aback when she told me I couldn’t pick it up. Assuming her concern was over safety, I thought her reaction was sweet but a little over the top and puzzled as to why she thought I couldn’t pick up the knife safely.
I glanced at the knife, which looked perfectly harmless lying there on the floor. Before I could say or do anything else, she repeated I couldn’t pick it up, that someone else had to do it. I was wondering what she was going on about, when another colleague quickly got up and picked the knife up.
Seeing my confused expression, they explained that as I was the one who had dropped the knife it was bad luck for me to pick it up. I thought they were joking but they were really serious about this.
We went on to discuss other superstitions like opening umbrellas indoors or spilling salt. Almost everyone in the room believed in at least one myth. One of the guys said he didn’t but that he wouldn’t walk under ladders. When I asked him why, he said ‘it’s bad luck’!
My colleagues seemed as surprised that I didn’t believe in any superstitions (surely there are some in your country too) as I was about them believing them so strongly. They said that even though they know it is irrational, this is so ingrained in their psyche that they can’t help acting on it.
This morning as I was preparing breakfast I noticed that I had two knives laying crossed over each other, which signifies bad luck in my country. No, I didn’t quickly uncross them but the thought was definitely there. This made me realize that although I do not believe or act on the superstitions I grew up with, they are nonetheless etched in my brain too.
I would love to know your views – do you feel compelled to act on the superstitions you know or do you ignore them?