I read yesterday that Stephen King paid to transport a whole bunch (the article was more specific but I've slept since) of soldiers home to Maine for Christmas before they have to deploy overseas in January. First of all, bravo to Mr. King, of course. I doubt that the money put him in any sort of financial bind, but it would have been just as easy to tell them that they were on their own, he paid his taxes and that should be enough to transport the troops wherever they needed to go. Are there no prisons, no workhouses? Sorry, Dickens moment.
Ultimately, he didn't do that, he stepped up and he deserves applause for it. I'll wait while you clap at your computer.
The really interesting part of the whole story though, was that he was asked for thirteen thousand to bring the troops home but he refused to do that on the grounds of thirteen being unlucky. Instead he gave $12,999 and his assistant added the extra buck to round it out. Publicity stunt? Possibly, it does give the story a twist that a simple wealthy man who aids those in need story would not have, but I think it goes a little deeper.
First of all, as a fan and avid reader of Mr. King I know that he has said many times how much he dislikes the number thirteen to the point of avoiding addresses which add up to the wicked number. Those who have read or even seen the movie version of Room 1408 know that he has thought of this before. Also, even if you can consider this a simple publicity stunt, why go this way. It's Christmas, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to send each soldier his ticket in a stocking? That certainly would have garnered more notice than deducting a dollar due to superstition.
No, I think that Mr. King was joking out of one side of his mouth while breathing a sigh of relief out of the other.
Which makes me wonder, how much do I let superstition affect my life? I certainly knocked on my share of wood throughout the day. I refuse to say things out loud lest they come true, or don't come true depending on the desired outcome. I don't worry about spilling salt but I typically walk around ladders rather than under them. I can't remember the last mirror I broke but I'll guarantee that if I should shatter one today part of me would be wondering about the next seven years.
I suppose as long as I'm living my life with out too much interruption my mild superstitions shouldn't bother me, but just to be sure, maybe I should go knock on some wood.