Background: M is an American who grew up in New York and remembers her very traditional and conservative Grandma having a superstition about dropping cutlery.
M : “My Grandma would always do this strange thing during family gatherings when someone accidentally dropped silverware on the ground. She would yell, ‘Company’s coming!’, since it was supposed to be a sign that guests were on their way.”
Interviewer: “Can you think of any possible reasoning for why she would say this?”
M: “I have no clue where it came from, but she’d always say it at any family gathering. Oh, and supposedly if it were a knife, the guest would be male; if it were a fork, it would be a woman. She also mentioned that if the utensil faced the front door, the guest would be someone you really want to see or someone you haven’t really seen in a while… but, if it faced the back door, it would be an unwanted guest. I remember feeling scared when someone dropped a utensil pointing to the back… it was somewhat terrifying.”
This superstition could potentially reflect the burden of the traditional American housewife and the stress of maintaining a neat and hospitable household at all times. One small mistake, like a dropped utensil, instills fear of a sudden unexpected visitor and creates the urgency to immediately correct the imperfections to evade societal judgment. As a traditional American housewife, M’s grandma likely felt the pressure to uphold a nice and tidy home at all times. This superstition likely reflected these pressures and the pressure experienced when having to accommodate guests–welcome or unwelcome.