Practical superstitions that could save our lives (for real) – Happy Friday the 13th

With Friday the 13th nestled nicely on the calendar, some folks will cower in fear, others won’t even notice the day and still others will call all superstitions a bunch of hooey.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Sure, many superstitions are all in fun – knock wood – but others truly shield us from harm, even if they never started out that way.

They have become practical rules to stay safe – or even stay alive.

On the superstitious side, walking under a ladder is bad luck because it breaks the triangle of life.

That fragile triangle is created by the ladder’s rungs, the ground and whatever the ladder is leaning against. Break that triangle of life by barging through its center and you’re taking your fate into your own hands.

On the practical side, walking under a ladder is bad luck because of all the stuff that could fall on you. Paint cans, nail pails, gutter cleaning apparatuses – even the ladder itself – could come tumbling down while you’re beneath it, killing you instantly.

One woman’s skull was nearly shattered by a hammer that fell from a ladder.

Don’t step on a crack unless you want to break your mother’s back – or unless you yourself wish to get injured or killed.

OK, an uneven sidewalk is more likely to stub your toe than strike you dead. But you could feasibly trip on that unnoticed crack and go toppling into traffic. This, of course, would immediately result in being crushed by a bus on its way to Topeka.

Stepping on a crack is also dangerous in a number of situations besides on the sidewalk. Broken ice, creaky attic floors and earthquake fault lines all contain cracks that could be fatal.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Step on a crack near a manhole or those rusty cellar doors found on urban streets and you could find yourself head over heels in the bowels of the city. Or at least in the basement of a rat-infested eatery.

Open an umbrella indoors and you’re inviting bad luck to rain down on you. People originally feared such an action would stir the wrath of the sun god.

On the safety side, opening an umbrella in the small confines of a home can also shoot one of those pokey spokes through a nearby eyeball or even all the way through a brain.

You also have a good chance of knocking over some expensive and irreplaceable knickknack. This feat could incite the wrath of the knickknack’s owner, which could be even more deadly than the ire the sun god.

Anyone who doubts this fact should try knocking over and breaking his mother’s favorite vase.

Not covering your mouth when you yawn or sneeze is another way to beckon death.

The original reasoning behind the mouth covering was to either keep evil spirits out of your body or to keep your own soul from escaping, both of which led to an untimely demise.

Today’s super germs, contagious diseases and kids on the bus to Topeka who like to poke fingers down your gullet keep covering your mouth a necessity.

Sometimes anti-bacterial soap is just not enough for us to stay healthy and alive.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who never kills spiders because she likes them and never steps on cracks because she saw a man fall into a cellar. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

What’s your favorite superstition? Your least favorite?

Have you seen bad fortune come to those who ignore superstitions?

Has a superstition ever saved your life? Explain.


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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8 Responses to Practical superstitions that could save our lives (for real) – Happy Friday the 13th

  1. azmouse says:

    So great! I never really thought about how many little superstitions I actually have till I was checking stuff off on the list.

    • Rynski says:

      thanks, azmouse!
      i also find myself following gads of superstitions – even if i’m doing it all in fun – as i am a huge fan of folklore and all that comes with it.
      besides, since NOT killing spiders is one of the superstitions i particularly enjoy, i get to be on a lifelong quest of spider conservation, thereby doing my worldly duty by preserving the environment – hahhahahah.

  2. Alan in Kent WA says:

    Friday the 13th is the ultimate conspiracy story as it is the date that the King of France took down the Knights Templar!

    • Rynski says:

      wow, alan in kent wa – you know your history!
      that makes me like friday the 13th even more as, in addition to superstitions, i am a huge fan of conspiracy theories – heck, i create new ones all the time – hahahahhaha!

  3. andrew farley says:

    It’s funny we don’t have a room 13 here at work but Venders keep sending stuff for that room and we end up keeping it but it comes in handy if a dresser, nightstand or cheap looking framed painting gets broken and we just access room 13 and replace it. No waiting four to six weeks for the vendors to replace them. “logsna frinage naw bol weevil dannies arm” is the captcha

    • Rynski says:

      dear ogsna frinage naw bol weevil dannies arm,
      how completely AWESOME you, too, are getting lots of good luck – not to mention free goodies! – from a superstition.
      can you see if there are any pieces of debris that make for good artwork in that elusive room? haha.

  4. I’m leery of the 13th day whether it is on friday or not.  I also have some of my own stupid-stitions. I’ve decided to deal with it using what faith I have in The Almighty: There is “a light above the darkness” . . . . “trust The Lord to make a way.”
    This means God is far greater than any power darkness has.  So, it doesn’t matter what the darkness says when God says you will make it.
    . . . .
    My ex-city San Francisco has both numbered streets and avenues.  But, the number 13 is omitted for avenues. You have 11th ave, 12th, funston, than 14th ave.  For the streets, I think there was a little 13th under the cental freeway once but I think it is gone now but google says it is still there.  Go figure.

    • Lance Boil says:

      hey Ryn!
      stuperstitions are fun: I don’t know why but I am a ‘hat on the bed’ guy
      I work around ladders a fair amount and things fo occassionally come falling down, hammers included.

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