Fear of the number 13 is called Triskaidekaphobia. Although the origins of this superstition have been lost in antiquity, they still persist in our modern world. In Hispanic and Greek cultures Tuesday the 13th is considered an “unlucky” day, but in English folklore it is Friday the 13th. The superstitions about the number thirteen are so ingrained in society that they even affect architectural decisions. The building in which I live does not have a 13th floor, as you can see in the elevator panel above.
Yesterday, was Friday the 13th, and I had a particularly unlucky day. Actually, it could have been worse, but I am glad that it wasn’t. It all started with my usual TGIF celebration which consists of going to a restaurant for dinner and having a relaxing evening at home. But not last night.
The French food was a complete disaster. I ate only half of the food because it was too much, but nevertheless, I woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache. I don’t think that the food was bad, it was just too salty and my organism is not used to so much salt. I probably had dehydration cramps. My girlfriend ordered something that had some crab meat and something else with a strange French name. She should have heeded her instinct when the waiter asked if that was what she really wanted and whether she had had it before. She asked “What is it?”, the waiter explained that if she liked sardines or anchovies she might like it. mmhhh… At this point I thought that she would change her mind, but no, she is an adventurous gourmand.
Too bad. During the middle of her culinary adventure, it seemed to me that she looked a little bit green. At about this time she offered to let me try her dish. Having once been duped into tasting a horribly vile fishy morsel, I politely declined. Then she confessed that she really didn’t like the dish, and that the mystery ingredient with the French name seemed to be some kind of raw roe or organ which was too fishy and unpleasant. We left the restaurant in a less than pleasant mood.
But Friday the 13th had not worked its full magic yet. The worst part was about to happen on the way home. The first sign of trouble sounded like a pop as we passed a car that had been stopped by a police car. I did not realize then that my rear tire had blown out and was leaking slowly. As I turned into the cloverleaf to get on Washington’s outer belt, Route 495, I felt the car sway in an unusual way. The steering became harder, and then I realized that I had to pull to the edge of the road.
Fortunately, the blowout was on the right wheel along the curb of the road, otherwise I would not have been able to change the tire without risking my life. I fiddled in the dark with the jack and the spare tire while my girlfriend held a flashlight. The flashlight gave up the ghost after a few minutes. I managed to get the spare tire on in the dark. When I tried to get back on the road, there were some strange noises from the wheel that I had changed. I could not drive. I called the Mercedes help line, and a knowledgeable assistant asked me if I had changed the tire myself. When I said yes, he mentioned that the spare tire uses shorter wheel bolts than the regular wheels and suggested that this might be the problem.
I looked back through my toolkit using the cabin light of the car and there I found the five shorter bolts that I needed. I jacked the car up again and replaced the bolts in the dark. Now the car could move, but there was still some drag. I drove home slowly, which was eight miles away, and I could hear that the rear brake calipers were dragging on the disk. Evidently, the longer bolts had bent something. The tire was under warranty. I changed it on Saturday, but it cost me $101 Dollars to replace it after credit for residual value. The brake repairs will have to be done on Monday, and they will probably be a lot more expensive than the tire. This is a Friday the 13th that I will not soon forget.