A superstitious welcome to Friday 13th – what’s your Achilles’ heel?
Last updated at 20:06, Thursday, 12 July 2012
How many of you harbour a few work superstitions?
Indeed, how many of you work in shops, factories or other work environments which can lay claim to a number of superstitions – many of them related to the jobs in hand?
I’ve dealt with a few examples in the past – mostly connected with hazardous occupations where someone’s life, not necessarily the worker involved, can be put at risk.
A striking example of that is that body of superstitious lore connected with hospitals, nursing and things medical.
Then there were the superstitions connected with the sea. Old sailors were, and with good reason, a pretty superstitious bunch.
But no more superstitious than old time coal miners – and a number of other occupations we know very little about.
And we know so little, because I believe these little beliefs and superstitions are not noised abroad.
Hotels can be superstitious places.
How many times have you been installed in room 12B – on, for good measure, floor 14 – which followed on from floor 12.
More times than not, I wager. And, I understand, hospitals are very against the use of number 13 and you are very unlikely to come across a room, floor, ward or bed bearing that number – or the dreaded number 666.
Railway staff often wore red neckties – and we’re talking in 1894 here.
It was part of the uniform of many railway companies and in one company, the London and South Western Railway, two yards of red linen were issued annually to each member of staff. It was much more than imposing a corporate image.
The red scarves could, if placed over a white light, serve as a danger signal.
So when did engine drivers stop wearing red scarves?
I have vague recollections of footplate staff in the 1950s still sporting short red scarves.
But then, my memory could be playing tricks on me.
They also believed in the power of three – things happening in threes.
But then quite a few of us believe in this.
And what a relief it can be to tell ourselves after a third unpleasant event that at least it was the third in the chain.
I’m quite convinced that many occupations have their own set of beliefs and traditions.
Many of them have to do with customers.
First in in the morning – did he/she buy anything?
What colour coat or hat was the customer wearing?
All sorts of other little beliefs tied in with the physical appearance of various customers.
One belief which seems to be followed by most occupations, especially those dealing directly with members of the public is – never use the Q word!
If things are just quietly ticking over, just accept it.
The minute some misbeguided soul utters the fateful words “Isn’t it quiet?” then you can guarantee that it won’t be so for very long.
That’s what you get for tempting the Fates!
These various traditions and superstitions must be written up somewhere in various trade and professional journals – most of which I am never likely to clap eyes on.
Have you ever seen them listed in a magazine or journal to do with your work – often tucked away somewhere next to the letters pages? So all you gardeners, farmers, vets, estate agents, builders, lawyers, bus drivers, nurses, teachers – to name but a few occupations – help me out here!
Are there any superstitions – old and new – connected with your occupation?
If so, please get in touch – preferably by email.
I haven’t joined the Twitter, etc brigade – as yet.
I have had a quick search to see what superstitions rule the lives of the bankers of today!
With what’s been going on at the moment in our banking and financial services, I thought that they would be a source of countless superstitions.
And I was wrong. I haven’t been able to track down anything to do with present day banking superstitions.
I refuse to believe that none exist – so if you’ve ever worked in a bank or other financial institution and you are aware of any – please get in touch.
I want to end with this short note printed in The Poverty Bay Herald, Gisborne, New Zealand, in May 1893.
“Every time a bank fails in China, they cut off the bank officers’ heads – a proceeding which seems to have a good effect as no bank has failed there for over 500 years.”
First published at 19:25, Thursday, 12 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk