Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why Was Six Afraid Of Seven?

We have a regular customer who comes into the store with her daughter. Their drinks almost always come out to $6.66, which the woman doesn't abide. Her daughter usually adds a second shot of espresso to her beverage to fix the situation.

Yesterday this prompted a conversation. This was awkward for me, being in a position where it wouldn't really be appropriate for me to state my true feelings on the matter. This sort of thing tends to happen to me.

Apparently this woman has a thing with numbers in general. They are moving to a new address and the woman expressed concern about the address being 911.

Her: "Would you move into a place if the address was nine-eleven?"

Me: "I once moved into an apartment that was 1313..."

Her: "How was it?"

Me: "It was probably the best apartment I ever lived in."

Her: "Nothing really bad happened to you there?"

Me: "No."

I think I was pretty diplomatic. I stated my general opinion on the matter without negating her view, and delicately avoided having to answer her original question. And before she left she thanked me for making her feel better about the situation. She managed to rationalize that 911 was actually a good number, seeing as how it's our lifeline in times of emergency. Fair enough.

I always feel weird when put in these situations. Every part of my rational brain tingles when people talk about superstition and supernatural gobbledygook. And it's separate from people with religious belief. Maybe it's because religion is such a common thing in this country, but someone simply stating a religious belief doesn't cause the same thing in me, even though I think it comes from the same place.

I can understand the appeal of certain religions, while I don't subscribe to them myself. But the pure superstition of assuming that some numbers are good while others are bad seems somewhat primitive to me. Even if you take the religious stance that 666 is somehow related to the devil, where did that come from? That number isn't from the bible (at least not the original bible). It was someone's invention much later on.

I worry that attributing these imaginary values to ordinary and common numbers might drive someone insane, like in that Jim Carrey movie I never saw.

I have a feeling that every bad thing that happens to this woman at the new address, no matter how small, is going to be attributed to the number 911. A completely pointless and arbitrary association. Whatever sort of structure this kind of thinking provides someone in their life, I can't imagine it's a balanced one.

No comments: