Author Archives: mhajek

Car “Breeds” are Just as Important as Animal Breeds

Main story: 

With the current 2020 outbreak of COVID-19, veterinary technicians (hereby referred to as vet techs) are still slated to go to work as animal care is finally looked at as essential by most all of the U.S. However, nobody outside of the people who work in the clinics are allowed into the clinic. Vet techs are doing patient intakes over the phone and then asking the owner of the patient what car they are in so when they exit the clinic to the parking lot to get the animal to be taken inside and treated they know which car to go to. Because of this, vet techs are also having to learn what different car makes and models actually look like on top of everything else. So this meme is relatable across all veterinary clinics as this is the standardized procedure. But the other joke in the meme is the reference to car models as “breeds”, obviously dogs and cats and horses have breeds within their species that vet techs all know. And now they are having to memorize a whole other form of breed. 

Background: 

The informant who made the meme is a veterinary technician. They are almost attacked by animals every day they go to work. However, no matter how crazy it gets with the animals, they maintain they could not imagine any other job. 

Context: 

The informant is a coworker of mine, I am also a vet tech. They sent the meme in our clinic’s group chat. 

My thoughts: 

I found this very funny and highly relatable. As a vet tech myself, I find myself on the phone with clients and asking them what car they are in and only half of the time actually knowing what their car looks like. The other half of the time I am googling on the computer on my way out their car make and memorizing it quickly so I do not look completely out of touch and incompetent when I walk outside looking for the owner’s car.

A Ship Must be Christened

Main Story: 

The following is a conversation between the informant and myself. The informant will be CP and I will be MH. 

CP: Before a ship’s maiden voyage, a woman has to christen the ship. 

MH: What does that mean? 

CP: The tradition of christening or blessing a ship before its first voyage started centuries ago, when sailors would ask the gods for protections and make offerings of sorts. Eventually it evolved into a woman being named sponsor of a ship. And now it is tradition for her to break a bottle of champagne in the stern of the ship before it goes off. 

MH: Why a woman though? 

CP: The sea is often compared to women. The sea is beautiful and mysterious but also dangerous and fickle. The stereotypes of women being beautiful yet difficult transferred to the seas. Yet they are so engaging you always find yourself back with her no matter what. 

Background: 

The informant was a yacht captain for his whole life, like his grandfather. He grew up on the water and he says it is the only way of life he can accept. He maintains that the sea is his first love and will always have his heart in a way that nothing would be able to, except for his children. 

Context: 

The informant is a family member of mine, and we had the conversation over dinner while I asked him about odd nautical traditions.  

My thoughts: 

The sea being gendered as a female seems extremely antiquated to me and misogynistic in nature. However, there is also the narrative of the earth being a mother and the sea is tied into that. The Earth gives to the world and the seas give a lot. The ocean gave food to people, learning how to sail the seas meant new lands could be explored and new goods and foods could be found. It allowed for a strategy of escape incase of attack or incase of famine. But I also kind of like the fear and reverence for a strong female is so great amongst men that they made the sea female. 

A Captain must go down with his ship

Main Story: 

The following was a conversation between myself and the informant. The topic was on nautical traditions. I will be labeled as MH and the informant will be CP. 

MH: So what is it about the phrase “the captain will go down with its ship” ? It is always said in movies and books, but is it a real thing  ? 

CP: It absolutely is a real thing. There is a sense of pride for the captain. The ship is your ultimate partner at sea. Yes you have your crew, but the thing that keeps you safe is your ship. She shelters you, gives you a pace to sleep, a place to eat. And most importantly your ship is what lets you sail the seas freely. 

MH: So the captain going down with the ship is a sense of duty to the ship? 

CP: Sort of. Letting the ship sink alone is a sad moment. But also, the captain is the last person off the ship, well a good captain at least. For safety reasons, the captain is in charge of the ship so he is also in charge of evacuating the ship incase of emergency as he knows it best. Because of this, it ends up that in a lot of shipwrecks it is too late for the captain to escape by the time all crew and passengers are off. 

MH: So a good captain remains on the ship, and a poor one jumps ship early and lets people fight for themselves? What if the captain has a family?

CP: Pretty much. But a good captain will also view the crew as family and he is in charge of their safety and making sure they get home to their families as it is his job to get the ship from A to B safely. A good captain would not be able to go home to his family knowing he did not do everything to save his crew. 

Background: 

The informant was a yacht captain for his whole life, like his grandfather. He grew up on the water and he says it is the only way of life he can accept. And he maintains that even though he loves his kids more than anything, he would have to go down with his ship if it came to that as that’s the promise he made. 

Context: 

The informant is a family member of mine, and we had the conversation over dinner while I asked him about odd nautical traditions. 

My thoughts: 

A I can see how there is a sense of duty to the ship and to the crew. It does make sense that the leader goes down with the ship. I think initially the tradition sounds antiquated and dramatic. But when hearing him explain the reasoning behind it makes sense. Simply based on evacuation the procedure, if the captain is the last person to evacuate he can’t always make it off the ship in time.

Vietnamese Friday the 13th

 Main Story: 

The following is transcribed between myself and the informant, from this point forward the informant will be known as TT and I will be MH. 

TT: Are you familiar with Friday the 13th? 

MH: Yes, I am. 

TT: In Vietnam we also have Friday the 13th, but it has a different context then the commercialized one in the United States. The story goes, in the early 2000s there was a storm in a city in Vietnam and that city was semi-destroyed in the storm and many people were displaced. The people in the surrounding regions banded together and came into the town to deliver aid and help out. Then one day, well Friday the 13th, two busses carrying people who were supposed to be delivering aid crashed and almost everyone died in the collision. And now the day is cursed. 

MH: Is there any relevance of Friday the 13th as we know it in America, or like are the two ideas completely separate? 

TT: From what I remember the two are not linked but purely by coincidence. 

Background: 

The informant grew up in south Vietnam, however he moved here for school alone when he was sixteen. While adjusting to America he found this to be an interesting coincidence and parallel between the two vastly different cultures. 

Context: 

The conversation happened over FaceTime during quarantine. We were talking about tattoos and how tattoo parlors do “flash tattoos” (pre-designed tattoos that clients can pick from that usually only cost no more than 50$) on Friday the 13th,  and how often they are spooky themed. This then got us talking about the concept of Friday the 13th and the odd parallel between the culture of it here in the USA versus in Vietnam. 

My thoughts: 

I think the concept of the unlucky number 13 is fascinating as it centers from the western christian ideal of the 13 disciples – the 13th being Judas the traitor of jesus- so there were really only 12 proper ones. The fear around the number  was popularized in the 1890s in England. This trickled in building codes as most western buildings, especially in the U.S. omit the 13th floor. However, my friends and I are familiar with the fear of 13, and Friday the 13th, from popular slasher films in the 1980s-90s. It’s interesting to see the presence of fear surrounding Friday the 13th in a non-western culture.

Don’t Look into the Mirror at Midnight

Main Story: 

The following is transcribed between myself and the informant, from this point forward the informant will be known as TT and I will be MH. 

TT: There is this thing in Vietnam where you can’t look into mirrors at midnight. 

MH: Is that like a Bloody Mary reference? 

TT: What do you mean?

MH: Well there is a theory if you look into a mirror at night with the lights off and say Bloody Mary three times she will appear next to you. The “she” being a young girl covered in blood and the assumption is that she murders you I think. 

TT: Oh no, haha. That’s scary. Well, this is similar I guess. If you look into the mirror at midnight exactly then you can get transported to the other side because a portal opens up. 

MH: Is the other side like a spirit world? Like a heaven or hell situation or something different? 

TT: It’s like a spirit world. I’m not fully sure exactly where the myth came from, like if it is christian or not, but I’ve always been told it’s like a waiting room between everything. So maybe kind of non denominational? 

Background: 

The informant grew up in south Vietnam. He remembers a lot of the culture there being surrounded in superstition. This is one of the ones that he still thinks about, and he still doesn’t look into mirrors at midnight because of this. He claims that even though he’s a scientist by trade some things are better left untested. 

Context: 

The informant and I are friends, and the conversation happened organically while I was talking about some of my favorite ghost shows and spooky things. I then asked him if he had any prominent ghost stories or warning tales growing up. 

My thoughts: 

Mirrors seem to always draw some sort of attraction for the paranormal. Like broken mirrors bring bad luck, your fractured image can cause your mind to fracture or a demon to present itself to you etc. I am not sure when this first started, but there is always mystery with mirrors and what is looking back at you (is it really you?) and I find it interesting to see that this spans across cultures all over the world.