Friday the Thirteenth

I like to think of myself as an educated man. I graduated from college and even started a few post graduate degrees until I get bored and try something new. I read and try to keep up with current affairs. I enjoy delving into math and science projects and based upon my intelligence test scores was invited to join Mensa.

Why then do I find myself nervously preoccupied with Friday the 13th? This year has been especially bad as there have been three of these. With each one I cringe when I see it on the calendar and want to just stay home under the covers hoping to survive until the calendar rolls over to the 14th.

There is a word for this fear, paraskavedekatriaphobia which was named by North Carolina behavioral scientist and author Donald Dossey. This fear is related to triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13.

Today I like many others will watch every step we take hoping that tragedy will not befall us this day. The fear of Friday the 13th is more prevalent than you would think. While many people will not openly admit that they suffer from this fear they will take precautions.

Big decisions will be pushed to another day, surgeries and medical procedures will likewise be scheduled for another date on the calendar. I will take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in this irrational fear of today.

Car manufacturer Henry Ford refused to do business on Friday the 13th and would shut down when the date occurred. Napoleon Bonaparte likewise feared the number 13. President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to travel on the 13th of the month regardless of what day of the week it fell upon.

Perhaps the most telling story though is of Apollo 13 which launched on April 11, 1970 (the numbers of this date add up to 13) at 1:13 PM or 13:13 in military time. The mission had to be aborted after a canister explosion. The event ended with success but could just have easily been a disaster. There is just no reason to tempt fate that way.

So while I may have some famous company I plan on staying close to home today and keeping an ever watchful eye on the clock and the calendar. Just maybe I’ll survive another Friday the 13th.


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