I recently returned from a geology conference out in San Francisco. I had a great time at the conference, in general. I was stranded in Utah for a night due to bad weather and a missed connection, but even that wasn’t so bad. While the San Francisco Delta people reminded us that we would not be compensated in any way for the flight delay because weather is “beyond their control,” the Utah Delta people handed over a voucher for a free hotel stay and even some money towards dinner and breakfast. Everyone in Salt Lake City was very friendly and hospitable. The Mormons may have some whacky religious beliefs, but they’re very nice people in general.
One thing I noticed right away about the hotel in San Francisco is that there is no 13th floor! Really. The elevator buttons go B-L-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-14-15-16. Using my critical thinking- and counting- skills, I quickly realized that there actually is a 13th floor. [Cue Twilight Zone music] The 14th floor is really the 13th floor! And the 15th really the 14th! And the 16th really the 15th! [End Twilight Zone music]
I went up and down the elevator a number of times during the 4 days I was in San Francisco. On two occasions, I noticed that a man in the elevator with me pressed the button for the 14th floor.
Each time, I could not resist saying to the man, “Do you realize that you’re actually staying on the 13th floor?”
Each time, the man laughed and said something along the line of, “I know. I noticed that, too! Fortunately I’m not superstitious.”
I discovered that both of the men were scientists and attending the same geology conference. I felt relieved that both men laughed off the superstitious 13th floor. However, I’m now wondering about the general population. From now on, whenever I go to hotels I’m going to see if they skip the 13th floor and, if they do, I’m going to continue to point out to people traveling to the 14th floor that they are really staying on the 13th floor.
I wonder how many buildings in the world skip the “unlucky” 13th floor. Many, I imagine. In China, I bet many buildings skip the “unlucky” 4th floor.
But, really, I have to wonder- how does skipping the “unlucky” number in labeling the floors remove the bad luck? Doesn’t the universe (or God or whoever supposedly makes luck) know that the 13th floor is the 13th floor, even if you call it the 14th floor?
As strange as it may be to skip the 13th floor, I have to say that this (see picture below) is the strangest elevator I have ever come across- apparently there’s a button to take you sideways! This is an elevator I encountered in Singapore, by the way… but I did have to wonder if Charlie and the great glass elevator were nearby.