Saturday 14 February 2009

What comes before Valentine's Day...?

At some point last night I realised that if Saturday was Valentine's day then the preceding day must be Friday the 13th.

I'm not generally superstitious. I don't throw salt over my shoulder when I upset the salt cellar (not that we have salt in our house anyway) and I have no problem with ladders. I don't have any problem with black cats (although I always thought they were lucky rather than unlucky). I do have two superstitions that I pay close attention to.

One is never to open an umbrella indoors. I did this once as a small child and the next thing that happened was a slipped and fell on a wet pavement and cut my wrist extremely badly missing my artery by millimetres. The origin of this superstition is quite interesting - umbrellas were originally used as protection not from the rain but from the sun, and to open one inside was considered an insult to the sun.

I digress. Friday the 13th is my other pet superstition. Reason being for this one, experience. Friday the 13th (I have found) is often a most unfortunate day. The funny thing is, I'm not superstitious about the number 13 at all. For seven years I lived at number 13; I don't mind the 13th floor (although most buildings seem not to have one!) - or even 13 at dinner (again, most other people do, and I've never actually sat down with 13 at dinner). It is only Friday the 13th I mind. It is called (according to the ever knowledgeable Wikipedia) paraskavedekatriaphobia which is clearly a very focused form of triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13). Why is Friday 13th unlucky. Nobody seems to agree. Recent years have seen the popularisation of the unlikely theory of the unfotunate Knights Templar being rounded up and arrested on Friday 13th. It seems unlikely as the notion of Friday the 13th didn't really become mainstreen until the late 19th or early 20th Century.

Whatever the reason, my Friday the 13th didn't go altogether well. My camera broke. Again. This is my camera that only came back from being repaired a year ago... died the same death as last time. When I rang up to find up how much it would cost to get fixed (because it is of course now out of warranty) I was told nearly £90 (flat rate charge for all repairs). I can buy a new camera for less, which is what I told the man on the phone, and indeed what I decided to do.

I reserved one online, waited the requisite half an hour and then went to fetch it. I paid for it and they went to find it, and I waited... and waited... and then waited some more. Eventually the manager came to tell me they couldn't find the camera. But I'd already paid for it I pointed out (very reasonably I thought given I'd been standing there for 15 minutes). Perhaps they could fetch one from another store and I could pick it up in the morning, the manager suggested. Not possible I told him, as I was to fetch my mother-in-law from hospital. I pointed out (still quite calmly considering) that the whole reason that I'd reserved it online was so that I would be sure that I would get the model that I wanted. The to-ing and fro-ing went on for some time. The cameras, were missing (presumed stolen) and the only option was to offer me an alternative for the same price, I was happy to go along with this subject to the proviso that the camera took AA batteries not a Li-Ion rechargeable. Stumbling block. Eventually I was offered the display model of the camera I had requested at a 10% discount.

We take several vital lessons from this debacle.
1) Just because you reserve it don't assume they have it - this goes from bitter experience in many stores
2) Don't take payment until you are sure you have the goods to sell
3) Offer the dispaly model first - not last!

I have my new camera - which cost a fraction of the cost of the old one (or the repair bill for the old one) and is actually better specs than its predecessor. All good in the end then.