USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘danger’
Folk Beliefs
general

Fans and Heaters

The following is a superstition or belief of the informant based on stories from their parent.  I am represented by a K and the informant is represented by an S.

Piece:

K: Alright, so go ahead and tell me about your superstition.

S: Uhm, uh, my mom used to always tell me that I wasn’t allowed to keep the heater or a fan on, uhm, like when I’m going to sleep. Uhm… and it was always like a weird thing ’cause I always get really warm at night, uhm, especially in Virginia, where I’m coming from.  And, uh, so like she was always saying like, uhm, that apparently, like the – the blades of- of- of a fan, could like… attack you… or like suck you in in the middle of the night. And she said that- she was always like- it’s dangerous!!! So, it’s just something that I think about a lot whenever I like leave my fan on in the summer- and I’m like – I hope I don’t die tonight! Sorry mom!

Context:

The informant is a 20-year-old sophomore at USC.  We were sitting in a room with a group of friends, going around and sharing traditions or superstitions we all had.  When we got to her, she mentioned this story.  She was sitting on a couch in a living room setting in the Village apartments.  We were all just talking and eating food.

My Thoughts:

This is definitely a belief told by the informant’s mother to keep her daughter safe.  While the informant’s mother could be scared of fans, she most likely told her daughter this belief in order to keep her as safe as possible because fans can definitely be dangerous.

Digital
Legends
Narrative
Protection

New Form of Kidnapping (Ladies – be aware – worth a read)

“NEW FORM OF KIDNAPPING

Please take a minute to read this. This is very scary and could happen to
any of us.. Seems like every nice thing people do for one another can be
perverted.
A new twist on kidnapping from a very smart survivor:
About a month ago there was a woman standing by the mall entrance passing
out flyers to all the women going in. The woman had written the flyer
herself to tell about an experience she had, so that she might warn other
women.
The previous day, this woman had finished shopping, went out to her car and
discovered that she had a flat.
She got the jack out of the trunk and began to change the flat. A nice man
dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to her and
said, ‘I noticed you’re changing a flat tire. Would you like me to take care
of it for you?’
The woman was grateful for his offer and accepted his help. They chatted
amiably while the man changed the flat, and then put the flat tire and the
jack in the trunk, shut it and dusted his hands off.
The woman thanked him profusely, and as she was about to get in her car, the
man told her that he left his car around on the other side of the mall, and
asked if she would mind giving him a lift to his car.
< BR>She was a little surprised and she asked him why his car was on other
side.
He explained that he had seen an old friend in the mall that he hadn’t seen
for some time and they had a bite to eat, visited for a while, and he got
turned around in the mall and left through the wrong exit, and now he was
running late.

The woman hated to tell him ‘no’ because he had just rescued her from having
to change her flat tire all by herself, but she! felt un easy . (Trust that
gut feeling!)

Then she remembered seeing the man put his briefcase in her trunk before
shutting it and before he asked her for a ride to his car.

She told him that she’d be happy to drive him around to his car, But she
just remembered one last thing she needed to buy (Smart woman!!)

She said she would only be a few minutes; he could sit down in her car and
wait for her; she would be as quick as she could be

She hurried into the mall, and told a security guard what had happened, the
guard came out to her car with her, but the man had left. They opened the
trunk, took out his locked briefcase and took it down to the police station.

The police opened it (ostensibly to look for ID so they could return it to
the man). What they found was rope, duct tape, and knives. When the police
checked her ‘flat’ tire, there was nothing wrong with it; the air had simply
been let out.  It was obvious what the man’s intention was, and obvious that
he had carefully thought it out in advance. The woman was blessed to have
escaped harm.

How much worse it would have been if she had children with her and had them
wait in the car while the man fixed the tire, or if she had a baby strapped
into a car seat? Or if she’d gone against her judgment and given him a lift?

I’d like you to forward this to all the women you know. It may save a life.

A candle is not dimmed by lighting another candle. I was going to send this
to the ladies only; but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters,
daughters, etc.., you may want to pass it on to them, as well.

Send this to any woman you know that may need to be reminded that The world
we live in has a lot of crazies in it. Better to be safe than sorry.

PLEASE BE SAFE AND NOT
SORRY”

 

This email was originally received by my real estate agent, she resent it to me with the message that I should be, “extra careful!” especially since I am a single woman living away from home.

What first threw me off about this narrative was that the woman remembers the man put his briefcase in the trunk of her car; however, when she is narrating what he put in the trunk, she doesn’t mention the briefcase. It was inattention to detail like this that made me look it up and as it turns out, it’s an urban legend that’s been around since at least 1998.

My real estate lady is older, and she sent it to me because as a single young woman living in a big city like Los Angeles by myself, she thought I was more at risk. I guess this goes along with the stories and legends you hear about how dangerous and gang-infested big cities are.

Digital
Folk Beliefs
Protection

“Don’t use your cell phone at the gas station because you can cause an electrical spark and everything will blow up!”

Since the boom of cell phones, my informant’s dad has been telling her to take precaution and not to use her cell phone when filling up at the gas station.  As a very informed physicist, Dr. Loo is always up to date with new information that he reads in the paper and on the Internet.  He passes on any information that he believes his daughter must know.  This urban legend is one of the few pieces of information that she actually attempts to remember because it actually affects her when she thinks about using a cell phone.
My informant, a very cautious teenager, never takes too many precautions.  She believes in any information that could have any element of truth, even if it’s not likely.  Whenever she goes to the gas station with a group of friends, she never lets a friend use a cell phone while at the station even if the person who wants to use his or her cell phone isn’t the one filling up the car.
She spreads this legend around because she thinks it’s possible, but not entirely true.  She believes that it’s a safety issue, so people can never be too safe.  The reason she tells people to avoid using cell phones at gas stations is to let them know the possibilities of danger.  She doesn’t want her friends to die at the gas station over a silly cell phone call.
I believe that this urban legend is in fact realistic.  It makes sense that cell phones can be a danger at gas stations.  According to a CNN article published in 1999, “a cell phone’s battery could spark and ignite gasoline fumes if the cell phone were dropped in proximity to a gas pump.”  Just the possibility that dropping a cell phone near a pump could cause a spark is enough information to say that using cell phones at gas stations is dangerous.  Because people are so busy with so many places to go, they tend to be more impatient, which sometimes make them more clumsy and careless.  They try to do several things at once, like filling up and talking on the phone at the same time.  There’s a risk of accidentally dropping cell phones, which relates to the legend.  Even cell phone manuals are taking caution and warning people to switch cell phones off when refueling.  The Nokia 6133 User Guide states to switch cell phones off at refueling points.  If cell phone manufacturers are warning the public that using cell phones at gas stations is a potential hazard, then I believe that this urban legend is definitely legitimate.

Annotation:
“Exxon warns dealers of cell phone risks.”  CNN.com  24 June 1999.  19 Feb 2007     <http://www.cnn.com/US/9906/24/exxon.cellphones/index.html>.

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