Thursday, February 16, 2006

13th floor

I was sitting at my desk reading up on the latest celebrity trash when I was suddenly overcome with fear that the ceiling was about to come crashing down and pummel my computer into digital road kill. I asked what was going on and someone told me that they were doing work on the 14th floor. Since I am on the 12th floor, this just didn't add up. "Why the hell are they pounding through our ceiling then?" I asked, irritated at the high pitched whirring going on above my head, "it sounds like they're drilling for oil or giving Brad Garrett a lobotomy". It was then explained to me that there was no 13th floor in this building, that it goes 12, then 14. Apparently this is a common occurrence in buildings in the US and Canada. I haven't really ever noticed the number 13 on push buttons in the elevator, then again I don't really ever count the stupid things, I'm usually too busy thinking about important things like what the hell is up with Conan's hair or the tomcat breakup (because inquiring minds want to know).

It seems other cultures have similar architectural superstitions. Apparently Chinese culture has a fear of fours. (which is also the name of an excellent album by Lamb)

"Similarly, new buildings in some parts of China omit the fourth (as well as the 14th, 24th, etc.) floors, as the word "four" (Hanzi:?) sounds like "death" (both are pronounced "si") in Mandarin, the predominant dialect for the country, and most other Chinese dialects. A small number of buildings also follow the Western tradition of omitting the 13th floor, with the 15th floor immediately following the 12th.

Although the Hanja for four and death are read identically in Korean, buildings in South Korea tend not to omit the fourth floor. However, newer buildings tend to label the fourth floor with the letter F, instead of the number 4."

- Wikipedia

So apparently the Chinese are just pussys because South Korean's don't really give a shit that 4 means death. Either that or they have more things to worry about than a silly number, like crazy neighbors and oh I don't know... nuclear bombs?

Yet still, one still has to wonder what happens when you turn 4 in China. Do you parents lock you up in a cage? Put you in a barrel and nail it shut? I know my parents certainly wanted to do that when I turned 13. Come to think of it, wait, yes they did, but instead of a barrel they used my bedroom door, and yes I think it was nailed shut.



  • I suspect your coworker's not telling the truth. There probably is a 13th floor, but only a certain few higher ups have access to it. This is all the better because it's moet likely inhabited by black cats who go around walking under ladders and breaking mirrors. Spooky!

    By Blogger kevin, at 3:00 PM  

  • i heard a similar thing about 'room 113'. apparently you'll never find a room 113 in any hotel, again this is considered to be unlucky.

    Yes, the Chinese seem to be very superstitious people, from my own experience whenever there is something death related on TV my father darts out of the room so he won’t see it. Similarly when myself and my brother attended a friend’s funeral some years ago, we were instructed by our mother to ‘change out of the clothes we wore to the funeral in the garage’ and leave them there until she performed some ritual to expel any bad spirits before bring them back into the house.

    By Blogger the year of the dog, at 2:24 PM  

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