This morning, on the way to the train station I was forced to walk over three drains. If you are superstitious to the very hilt, as I am, then you'll know why this has bothered me so much. Walking over three drains is like begging for trouble. Not just asking for it, BEGGING. Nothing good ever comes from walking over three drains. Terrible things will happen.
My day started excitedly, with a flurry of last minute packing before our flight to NYC later tonight. It was all going so smoothly, we'd actually managed to locate both of our passports and neither of us had lost our bank cards. We'd decided to share a suitcase and even that didn't cause us to nearly break up -- we packed harmoniously and shared the suitcase space evenly. We remembered our toothbrushes, I managed to find my travel pillow and I even remembered to pack my Kindle in my hand luggage.
IT WAS ALL GOING SO WELL. And then I walked over three drains.
The walk to the station was a joy, with Brian Eno in my ears (I was feeling particularly proggy this morning) and the sunshine beaming down. I had my hand luggage bag gently bumping against my legs as I walked, reminding me that YES -- YOU ARE GOING ON HOLIDAY. As the traffic coursed by, I was smiling to myself, thinking of the moment later this evening when I could stow away my bag and sit back with a gin and tonic and watch some crap rom-coms for 8 hours.
BUT THEN. A lady with a pram came straight for me and with the pavement being narrow I was forced to do the unthinkable, and walk clean over three drains.
I never, ever, EVER walk over three drains. Everyone knows that walking over three drains is bad luck! I'll skip over one, dance merrily over two, but if there are a set of three drains in my path I will swerve, jump, hop and dart out of the way so I don't have to do the unthinkable and put one boot in front of the other and step over them.
Instantly, I felt the iciness build in my stomach and the wave of nausea came over me. It was like the sun knew, and shot behind a cloud, too scared to show its face. I was now not in charge of my destiny! SOMETHING BAD WILL NOW HAPPEN.
Sure enough, when I arrived in the office, I had a message from Chris, letting me know that the flight we are booked on this evening -- as standby -- is oversold, and for us to get on the plane 15 people need to not show up. 15. One five. There isn't another flight today, and tomorrow is looking similar. ALL BECAUSE OF THE THREE DRAINS.
Even though I know that rationally, the flight being oversold can have literally nothing to do with my walking path this morning, I still feel responsible. I feel like had I just pushed that lady and her pram into the road into passing traffic and avoided the drains then everything would be FINE.
The more I tortured myself about it, the more I realized quite how superstitious I am.
I will never, in a million billion years, put a new pair of shoes on the table. If anyone else does, I scream at them from across the room like a wailing banshee. You will never catch me putting up an umbrella indoors. When I walk into the office and I see open, drying umbrellas, I recoil in horror. Eugh. Just thinking about it is giving me the heebie jeebies.
I always have to "touch wood" if I say something that may tempt fate: for example; "Wow, our holiday planning is going really well! No problems this time! TOUCH WOOD." Apparently this can derive from old myths about good spirits living in trees, or something to do with the Christian cross being made of wood. Either way, it keeps me safe, so whatevs.
ARGH! As I finished typing that sentence, the word count was on 666. IT MEANS SOMETHING!
Magpies are my real superstition cornerstone. You know the famous magpie nursery rhyme about the number of magpies you see meaning something?
"One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told."
I take that SO seriously. If I see a lone magpie, I get completely panicked until I salute it, therefore "cancelling it out." My way of cancelling out a lone magpie is with the greeting, "Hello, Mr. Magpie, how are your wife and children?" and as insane as I may look, I HAVE to do it. Whether I am on a packed, silent commuter train, or with work colleagues, I have to. And I've managed to make a way of saying it really really fast, which actually makes me look even more unhinged.
Alternatively, if I see TWO magpies, I know that the day will be full of blessings and cake and fried chicken and joy.
If I spill the salt, I will always throw a pinch over my shoulder. I won't walk under a ladder. I am convinced that when my first grey hairs appear, if I pull one out, 10 more will grow in its place. If my right hand itches, it means I'm going to come in to money. And it always itches on payday! If my left hand itches, it means that I need to spend money. My left hand itches every day. Definitely true.
Do you have any superstitions you simply HAVE to abide by or terrible, awful, deathly things will happen to you and your family? Should I get a therapist? WILL I GET ON MY FLIGHT? I know this all all SO First World Problems and all that but this is all too much for me.
Touching wood on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.