Author Topic: Other people's superstitions  (Read 5540 times)

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Barney girl

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Other people's superstitions
« on: May 23, 2013, 12:55:06 PM »
This is intended as a lighhearted question, so I'm not putting it on th main board.
There is a superstition common in the part of England where I live now that I've not come across elsewhere - that passing on the stairs is unlucky.
I can understand it might be dangerous, where stairs are narrow, but in our offices the stairways are wide with plenty of room for several people, yet I have colleagues who look quite panicky and shoo me back if they're already on the stairs and I appear on the landing. I've learnt to accommodate this and wait for those I know are superstitious.
I was in a shop at the weekend which has a flight of wide stairs with a landing halfway down. As I started down from the top someone else started from the bottom and I wasn't sure if we would pass on the landing or not. The stairs are about 8 feet wide, so no practical reason to pause, but I was left wondering if I should because of this superstition. In the end we passed on the landing with no harm done.
As I said, I've not come across this superstition elsewhere, but it seems widespread here. Would you stop doing something if there's little inconvenience to you in doing so, because there is a possibility it might upset them, even if it makes you look as though you subscribe to a superstition you don't?

MindsEye

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2013, 01:05:45 PM »
As I said, I've not come across this superstition elsewhere, but it seems widespread here. Would you stop doing something if there's little inconvenience to you in doing so, because there is a possibility it might upset them, even if it makes you look as though you subscribe to a superstition you don't?

Honestly, no.  I would only alter my behavior if I knew for sure that something (passing on the stairs, to use your example) would upset someone. 

Hmmmmm

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2013, 01:34:19 PM »
If I could easily accomodate someone and I know they are supersticious about it, I will accommodate.  So if a friend subscribes to 'don't cross a black cat's path' and accomodating this superstition only requires me to cross a road, then fine I'll do it. But if we are in a car and she wants me to turn around and find a different route, not happening.

But in your case, I wouldn't stop passing people on stairs based on the chance a stranger had this superstition. If the person doesn't want to pass people on stairs, they can go back up and wait for me to finish climbing the stairs.



Lynn2000

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2013, 01:55:33 PM »
I'm not very superstitious myself. I would treat other people's superstitions as preferences, and accommodate them accordingly; my goal would be to minimize inconvenience to myself, but at the same time I wouldn't want to completely disregard what they want. Sorry to be wishy-washy about it! :) It seems situational to me. For example, I have a friend who always says a quick prayer over her food (NOT calling that a superstition, just that it falls in the larger "preferences" category), and while I don't join her in doing the same, or refrain from eating my own meal, I sit there quietly and don't speak until she's done. If I was walking with someone and their preference was to cross the street to avoid a black cat, then cross back to continue our journey, I would let them do what they felt they had to do without mocking them, but I personally would just keep walking straight.

For the stairs thing (never heard of that, btw), I don't think I would change my behavior much. If there was physically plenty of room for us both on the stairs I would just proceed up (or, more likely, down) and if that bothered them, they could go back to their landing and wait. Presumably I'm taking the stairs in order to get someplace, so why should I delay that; also, I feel a little wobbly on stairs anyway, so I'm not going to do any backtracking that might make me wobblier, if there's plenty of room. But, I wouldn't roll my eyes at the person or anything.

Once I had a co-worker who was really into the "knock on wood" thing. I'd heard of it, but I didn't really understand it. Like, you say something like, "I hope there's good weather for our picnic tomorrow," and that's kind of like "tempting Fate" to make it rain because you're counting on it not raining, so you rap your knuckles on a wooden desk or something... for luck? Anyway, my co-worker was always saying it and knocking on wood. Okay, whatever, that's her thing. Then one day we were sitting somewhere at a non-wooden table, and conversation was such that she felt knocking on wood was required. She says to me, "Can you reach behind you and knock on that wooden cabinet for me?" And I was just like, "No." She stopped saying it as often after that. I would listen to her do it all the time, but I drew the line at going out of my way (however small) to do this thing for her, which I personally didn't see the point of.
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Only me

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2013, 02:13:04 PM »
Hi

I have an aqaintance who doesn't like a fork and knife to cross, as the superstition is that you'll have a fight with a friend. She'll reach over the table and uncross our fork/knife when we're out to dinner. She's close enough that the rest of us just go along with it. LOL we've caught her a few times crossing her fork and knife on the plate and corrected the action.

So I would accomadate it where possible, but won't go over board with going out of my way. What's the expression "your priority does not mean its mine"??

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Luci

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2013, 02:20:13 PM »
I don't go out of my way to accomodate others' superstitions. It's easy to wait until I get on the porch to open and umbrella, anyway, for example. But, how many millions of times have I passed people on the stairs with high school, college, church, theaters, historical sights, work, and on and on? (And I do mean millions!) That one just seems too far out there to go along with, and it is impossible most of the time out in public.

KenveeB

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2013, 02:20:43 PM »
Once I had a co-worker who was really into the "knock on wood" thing. I'd heard of it, but I didn't really understand it. Like, you say something like, "I hope there's good weather for our picnic tomorrow," and that's kind of like "tempting Fate" to make it rain because you're counting on it not raining, so you rap your knuckles on a wooden desk or something... for luck? Anyway, my co-worker was always saying it and knocking on wood. Okay, whatever, that's her thing. Then one day we were sitting somewhere at a non-wooden table, and conversation was such that she felt knocking on wood was required. She says to me, "Can you reach behind you and knock on that wooden cabinet for me?" And I was just like, "No." She stopped saying it as often after that. I would listen to her do it all the time, but I drew the line at going out of my way (however small) to do this thing for her, which I personally didn't see the point of.

Whenever I feel the need to knock on wood and don't have any at hand, I always knock on my head. ;)

Redwing

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2013, 02:29:49 PM »
I have heard of this superstition before.  I don't worry if I pass someone on the stair.  I have no idea what their superstitions are.  If they believe that superstition, I'm guessing it's on them to make sure they don't pass someone on the staircase.

magicdomino

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2013, 02:35:38 PM »
Once I had a co-worker who was really into the "knock on wood" thing.

Whenever I feel the need to knock on wood and don't have any at hand, I always knock on my head. ;)

I don't actually knock on anything, but I sometimes say "Knock on Formica."  Wood?  There's no real wood here.   ;)


Margo

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2013, 02:48:42 PM »
I've heard that crossing on the stairs is unlucky. I seem to remember reading that it arose from the fact that someone passing you on the stairs is in a good position to then stab you in the back, but don't know whether that's how the belief arose! I would agree that in relation to strangers, it's really up to the person who is bothered by passing someone on the stairs (or other superstition) to avoid it.

Re: Black cats - over here (UK) a black cat crossing your path is lucky, not unlucky!

MrTango

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2013, 02:53:02 PM »
I wouldn't ever go out of my way to accomodate a superstition.  On the other hand, I'm also not going to go out of my way to antagonize someone for their superstition.

bansidhe

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2013, 04:14:07 PM »
I wouldn't ever go out of my way to accomodate a superstition.  On the other hand, I'm also not going to go out of my way to antagonize someone for their superstition.

Same here. I'm not going to cater to irrational beliefs/preferences. A genuine phobia is one thing. I don't ever talk about or show pictures of my snakes to people who are truly terrified of snakes, for example. If I knew someone was honest-to-goodness terrified of people passing her on the stairs I wouldn't do it but I won't accomodate a mere superstition.
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Thipu1

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2013, 07:25:52 PM »
Once I had a co-worker who was really into the "knock on wood" thing.

Whenever I feel the need to knock on wood and don't have any at hand, I always knock on my head. ;)

I don't actually knock on anything, but I sometimes say "Knock on Formica."  Wood?  There's no real wood here.   ;)

The knock on wood things the only superstition I have and the wood has to be real wood.  A pencil or a tree is just fine but metaphorical wood like someone's head doesn't work.  This belief of mine probably comes from a saying in my family, 'Knock on wood, make it come good.  Knock on glass, it'll
 pass'.

If you go deep enough, even the most rational people have an irrational belief tucked away somewhere.  Unless the belief interferes with everyday life, I see no problem with indulging it.

BTW, when a black cat crosses your path, I've heard that you can immediately undo the jinx by looking at something red.   

Hmmmmm

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 11:02:34 PM »
Once I had a co-worker who was really into the "knock on wood" thing.

Whenever I feel the need to knock on wood and don't have any at hand, I always knock on my head. ;)

I don't actually knock on anything, but I sometimes say "Knock on Formica."  Wood?  There's no real wood here.   ;)

The knock on wood things the only superstition I have and the wood has to be real wood.  A pencil or a tree is just fine but metaphorical wood like someone's head doesn't work.  This belief of mine probably comes from a saying in my family, 'Knock on wood, make it come good.  Knock on glass, it'll
 pass'.

If you go deep enough, even the most rational people have an irrational belief tucked away somewhere.  Unless the belief interferes with everyday life, I see no problem with indulging it.

BTW, when a black cat crosses your path, I've heard that you can immediately undo the jinx by looking at something red.   
Time to add red to my decor since I have 2 black monsters constantly under foot.

baglady

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Re: Other people's superstitions
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2013, 11:12:05 PM »
Once I had a co-worker who was really into the "knock on wood" thing. I'd heard of it, but I didn't really understand it. Like, you say something like, "I hope there's good weather for our picnic tomorrow," and that's kind of like "tempting Fate" to make it rain because you're counting on it not raining, so you rap your knuckles on a wooden desk or something... for luck? Anyway, my co-worker was always saying it and knocking on wood. Okay, whatever, that's her thing. Then one day we were sitting somewhere at a non-wooden table, and conversation was such that she felt knocking on wood was required. She says to me, "Can you reach behind you and knock on that wooden cabinet for me?" And I was just like, "No." She stopped saying it as often after that. I would listen to her do it all the time, but I drew the line at going out of my way (however small) to do this thing for her, which I personally didn't see the point of.

Whenever I feel the need to knock on wood and don't have any at hand, I always knock on my head. ;)

Me, too! My mom used to (good-natured jokingly) call me a "woodenhead," so it evolved from that.
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