J is informant, L is interviewer
J: If we drive through tunnels you have to hold your breath from the beginning of the tunnel until the end. And I- literally my grandpa, because he’s a psychopath as we have already discovered, his explanation to [my mom] was that literally some crane would come down and swipe your head off. So I don’t know what my grandpa was trying to teach us, but yeah.
L: So you hold your breath because you don’t want to get hit by a crane?
J: Yeah apparently. But obviously, you know that that doesn’t happen, because you’re not dumb. Because you look around and you see that there’s no crane in the tunnel because it is tiny and- anyway, it just doesn’t make sense.
Yeah. So but I still do it and like sometimes I mean I obviously don’t force myself, if I’m gonna die, like, yeah you know we’re good. But it’s still something that I think about when I go into town.
The informant is Brazilian-American, and currently lives in America. Half of her family still lives in Brazil, the other half is from the U.S.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
I asked about any superstitions people had.
I would categorize this as a homeopathic folk belief, but I’m unsure. It’s a protective/preventative belief. You perform and action in order to prevent something from happening. Very similar to knocking on wood. Although the informant doesn’t believe a crane is going to swipe her head off, she still does it, just in case. And for tradition, as well, as it was one that she shared with her grandfather.
Cars and tunnels are both dangerous, which can lead to a lot of folklore about them. Especially considering how much time is spent in cars by Americans, it’s no wonder that there’s so much folklore surrounding the two.