21 November 2006

The very first day that I...

The very first day that I went to the gym at my workplace (with that awkward feeling anyone who has ever been to a new gym will know) I settled down on the first piece of familiar kit - a treadmill.
After 2kms the woman on the next treadmill tapped my arm to attract my attention. Bizarrely she complained that my locker-key, safety-pinned to my shorts, was annoying her. It was jangling too loudly!.
I've been to that gym hundreds of times since, and never had anything like that since.

The very first day at in a previous job I arrived absolutely determined to take all the opportunities a new job offers: above all the chance to create a good first impression
Entering through the revolving doors, I went in just as someone else was coming out, I must have revolved too hard because I caught his heels with the door and he stumbled and swore at me.
I never had trouble with that revolving door ever again.

The very first day that we moved into our very first flat, we set to work sweeping up the builders' dust in the back garden.
From nowhere a little old lady appeared at our elbow. 'You bought this flat?", she asked, with no ceremony. We admitted it. "You want to be careful - there's water down there". And with that she scuttled off, leaving us rather worried. .
In three years we never saw anyone in our back garden again. (She was right though)

The very first day I went to University, the very first person I spoke to seemed like a nice guy - friendly and interesting. University was evidently not so hard as had I feared.
But he turned out to be a Christian trawling for recruits.
In three years hanging around the college bar, I never got approached by a Christian again :-)

Many people seem to have odd first-day experiences like this: odd things that happen on your first day, but never before or since. What causes them?

Three theories:
1) The effect is an illusion. Things like this happen every day, it's just that we only notice, or only remember these unremarkable events because of the 'first day' context.
2) Being nervous or uncomfortable, we unconsciously project an air of vulnerability that encourages other people to mix it or approach us.
3) Fate/God or some other supernatural force enjoys teasing us.

It must be a mixture of (1) and (2), right?

On the very first day after I passed my driving test, I took my Mum out for a drive (as you do) and a tree blew down in the road right in front of us.
I did an emergency stop and came to rest in the branches.
Needless to say, in twenty years of driving since, I've never had a tree fall on me again.

"The Gods, too are fond of a joke"

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