a pleasant storyThe presenter was a woman, a Chinese surgeon. Her job was to present about superstitions or cultural beliefs, so she chose to tell us about Chinese numbers and what they meant to Chinese. Eight was prosperity in a financial kind of way, she said, but eighteen was not lucky at all; in the same way American hospitals skipped the thirteenth floor, Chinese hospitals sometimes skipped the eighteenth. Many numbers had positive connotations, but four was particularly bad, being associated with death, due partly to the way it sounded.
So then, having described the lucky characteristics of numbers like one, two, five and eight, she showed us her phone number, which was filled up with all the good ones and in particular four eights at the end. Now I may have copied this down in my notes, but I felt embarrassed about copying a woman's phone number, and besides that, it was quite long, much longer than ours tend to be, a string of maybe thirteen or fourteen numbers, all lucky ones of course, not a four in the bunch. They all ran together, and weren't put in groups like ours are, area code, prefix, etc., just fourteen lucky numbers in a row. She explained that the four at the end could be interpreted as her future, thus all eights at the end would indicate a very prosperous future. Happiness and good luck, of course, filled the early parts of the number and were more likely to represent all the good stuff that would take place before that prosperity arrived.
So, at the end, we all had a lot of questions and two boys in the front got into a discussion that I didn't catch, because I was in the back. But finally I asked her: How did she rate such a great phone number? I'm a surgeon, she said, and I did an operation on a guy, and he gave me that phone number as a gift.