Originally created 02/13/98

Watch out for luck today



Forget Halloween. For lots of people, today's the creepiest day all year.

It's Friday the 13th, a day filled with Jason and slasher movie horror stories, accidents, murders and blood.

"It's connected with evil and badness," said Clyde Flannagan Jr., professor of psychiatry at the University of South Carolina's School of Medicine. "People have Friday the 13th phobia. It's the idea that the world is unsafe, Friday the 13th in particular. People are really frightened of it."

At the Last Supper, add up Jesus and 12 disciples and you've got 13 at the table. Judas, the 13th one, betrayed Jesus, who was nailed to the cross the next day -- a Friday.

Later, Fridays became "hangman's day" on which criminals were executed. There were 13 steps leading up to the gallows.

"We should all have the day off," said Nina Sigers, administrative support coordinator at Augusta Credit Center. "Friday the 13th would be a good day for everyone to stay home and keep out of trouble."

Triskaidekaphobia, which is fear of the number 13, won't keep everyone locked inside clutching meat cleavers. USAir is running the same number of flights today as any other Friday, an airline spokeswoman said.

"I'm kind of hesitant when I read the flights back and it's on Friday the 13th," said Patty Font, travel agent with Augusta Travel, who always asks people's permission before assigning them to a seat in the 13th row. "There's enough superstitions out there. I don't want them blaming me if something did happen."

Not everyone sees Friday the 13th as different.

"My bad luck happens on any day. It don't matter," said Augusta Transit Director Heyward Johnson.

Usually, no more houses burst into flames or cars overturn in ditches on Friday the 13th than other days, Dr. Flannagan said.

In 20 years of working in University Hospital's emergency room, Dr. Paul Seward hasn't seen any more patients on Friday the 13th than other days, he said.

Still, people study the newspaper and attributetraffic deaths, hangnails and headaches to the horribly unlucky day -- thus proving the superstition, Dr. Flannagan said.

Thirteen's always been Anthony Cowan's lucky number. The security guard does his stair checks on the 13th of every hour. His girlfriend's birthday is Oct. 13. And he picked 13 in the lottery and won $75, he said.

"I don't have no bad luck on Friday the 13th," said David Evans, a deputy for the Richmond County Marshal's Office. "It's a better day for me."

Dr. Flannagan, of USC's School of Medicine, said: "Most people take note of it, but it doesn't shape their behavior. People get a little bit anxious and they try to be particularly safe."