Tag Archives: NYC

Don’t break the pole

–Informant Info–

Nationality: American

Age: 23

Occupation: Student

Residence: New York City

Date of Performance/Collection: 4/28/2021

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Korean

Context: As a NYC resident, MB says the following folk belief might just be applicable to his city. MB – informant. SD – interviewer


MB: I’m sure you’ve heard this but you don’t break the pole when you’re walking with your friends.

SD: I haven’t heard this actually. 

MB: So basically, when you and another friend are walking, you both go on one side of the pole. You can’t have one person go on one side of the pole and the other person on the other side, you both go on the same side. 

SD: Okay, so is this like an American cultural thing, or a Korean thing…

MB: I don’t think it’s a national thing, it’s probably just a New York thing because there are so many poles here (laughs). When I was in high school my friends and I would always make fun of it, like don’t break the pole or we won’t be friends anymore (laughs again).


This is an example of a super specific belief or superstition that is brought about because of the geography of the place. As MB says, NYC has a lot of street lights and construction poles, so local residents probably came up with this belief. The meaning of this belief is that if you go on either side of the pole, you will break your friendship as the pole has come between you and your friend. However, I think this belief is loose and can be a joke as MB stated at the end. People joke around and mess with their friends by saying that they will go around to the other side of the pole and break their friendship. Obviously, this doesn’t happen, but it’s a good example of a superstition that has been turned into a joke.