Superstition at work

I got stuck in the EZ Pass lane the other day, my transponder wasn't tripping the sensor.

The grumpy toll man walked over, grabbed it out of my hand and shouted, "You've got too much Velcro! It doesn't work if you have more than a little strip." And then he ripped off the stuff that had been holding it to my window, threw it on the ground and handed it back.

Of course, Velcro has nothing to do with radio waves. And this professional, who had spent years doing nothing but facilitating the interactions between antennae and transponders, refused to believe that, because radio waves are mysterious.

As mysterious as everything else we deal with at work.

We all have superstitions. What time to post? How to dress for a certain kind of meeting. How long to spend at lunch, and whether or not the boss notices if we answer emails within two minutes instead of five…

The idea that spicy foods caused ulcers persisted as a superstition for more than twenty years after doctors proved it was bacteria that were responsible. And countless people were bled by barbers, in the vain hope that it would cure disease.

We're wired to be superstitious (so are dogs, parrots and most other creatures trying to survive), and if your favorite false causation make you feel like you have a bit more control over things, enjoy it. But just as we'd rather not have a veterinarian that brings a rabbit foot into the operating room, when in doubt, it pays to understand what's actually happening and what's merely a crutch.

Especially if you're a rabbit.