0711/22nd December 2022

A date with lots of 2’s! I don’t follow numerology, so I had no idea what could be significant about 22/12/2022 or 12/22/2022 depending which side of the Atlantic you are on.

But just for fun I looked up 2 :


The Numerology number 2 is known to numerologists as a supremely feminine force, one that represents both grace and power. It is cooperative, always aiming to bring peace and balance back to a relationship or situation. This Numerology number is also very sensitive — of all the numbers, it has the strongest intuition. It is able to sense currents and feelings instinctively, then use these clues to connect with others empathically.
At its very core the 2 in Numerology represents partnerships — the coming together or balancing of two individual people, concepts, or things. While it holds great power over any situation, it wields it with such diplomacy and tact that the result is not control and authority, but harmony and teamwork. It is a mediator, able to see two sides of a situation in an unbiased way and guide others down the middle road.

Grace, power and cooperation sounds good to me!

When I came to the USA in 1964 and met up with The New Math, I decided to make do without.

With a great deal of struggle I had transitioned from whatever the French system was to the British system. My classmates had laughed at me but the teacher, a bearded gentleman by the name of B.D. Burns would not allow me to quit.

“Carolyn”, he said “you are not stupid. You can do it!”

It was mostly his faith in me that got me through, but also my own bloody-mindedness. No one was going to laugh at me!

When I finished at the head of the class perhaps I was a bit smug.

But then I was sent to America.

And that was the end of that.

Still, numbers are everywhere. Everything seems to equal an equation of some sort. But even for simpletons, like me:

All my life I have counted…

The first time I was conscious of numbers in a way that was personally meaningful was probably when my mother and I embarked on what seemed to be an endless journey from London to Phnom Penh.

Most of the journey was in an Air France Super Constellation. Between Paris and Bangkok we touched down at something like 6 intermediate stops.

Each time we strapped ourselves in again I asked mother “how long now, Mummy?” It always seemed to be 6 hours though I know some flights were shorter.

At that time I was a novice flier and knew nothing of flight numbers, boarding gate numbers, seat numbers, baggage identification numbers!


Numbers became significant again when I went to boarding school.

All our clothing had to be identified with a personal number. Leading up to Christmas 1959, Mum sat each evening embroidering the assigned digits which were something like 57.

On December 22nd (63 years ago today!) my mum took me by overnight train into the highlands of Vietnam where I was left in my first boarding school.

I was not upset at the timing. I think in my mind I felt I was helping, doing my part. I knew that people in Britain had spent the war years bravely doing the right thing. It was my chance to be brave.

Decades later when it somehow came up, my mother denied that she would ever have allowed such a thing. That pissed me off. We are contrary beings.


A little more than a year later, there was another boarding school which required another number and this one was 181 or 183.

Back in England in 1962 one obtained actual name labels in lieu of numbers for our clothing but it wasn’t long before I became a serious counter.

Returning from Asia, I found all sorts of edibles that I had missed. Added to which British school food was good old stodge. I had convinced myself that I was one of those lucky people who can eat any and everything without gaining weight.

The school uniform must have been the expander variety. When summer arrived and I prepared to journey once more to Asia, my clothes did not fit.

This would not do! When I returned in the Fall, measures must be taken to rectify matters.

So I began counting calories.

It is really only in very recent times that I have stopped that particular mental activity, more or less. I used to always have a running count in my head

Working at JFK Airport serious counting began.

Kilos and dollars and heads!

That is to say “heads on board”, or “SOB” if you added passengers, crew and infants. Souls.

It came as a great shock to me that sometimes the number of available seats was not equal to the number of heads. At first I really believed it really was a “computer error”.

It was odd though, that our computer made those errors regularly, on certain flights and particular days of the week.

On those days what I mostly counted was the minutes until I could clock off and go home.

Well, not always. Sometimes I worked overtime and began counting the hours of extra pay or accumulated time off.

Looking back, its hard to believe what a naive little twit I was, that first year at the airport.

When we checked passengers in, we had to annotate their baggage count and weight. If the weight exceeded the allowance, a fee must be charged. It was calculated at 1% of the First Class one way fare.

In other words, not cheap.

There were a couple of problems with this.

Maybe it was that Brain had been programmed by parents whose baggage was always in excess and who were reluctant to pay the penalty.

Let us say that is why I didn’t like asking for excess payments.

Not because I didn’t like being yelled at.

That first summer, in the old terminal, only a few agents had cash drawers and when you charged excess you had to go and bother one of these people who were busy and ill-disposed to accept transactions from some fool new person who was bound to mess up their account.

Additionally, we often checked in passengers who had obviously saved a long time for their trip and were taking gifts to their loved ones far away. It felt like extortion to ask these people for more money.

Whatever the reason, I hated to charge excess. But if you didn’t, you had to falsify the record!

Sounds drastic. Back then, there were paper tickets. You wrote the weight and excess charges on the ticket and attached the receipt.

If you decided not to charge, you couldn’t write the accurate weight on the ticket. So instead of 2/28 (2 bags @ 28 kg) you had to write 2/20, which was the allowance.

You had to record the actual number of bags because the load controller needed an accurate count, so sometimes you might write 5/20 and the controller would roll their eyes, knowing it was fiction.

In those early days I used to worry. Oh, I did worry. I used to think that by writing a fictitious weight on passenger tickets I was going to cause a serious discrepancy in the loadsheet and cause a crash.

After a while though, I became a load controller myself and found out I had been worried over nothing. But now, I had to count lots of numbers and compile them into the aforementioned loadsheet.

Now I really worried about crashing aeroplanes.

For sure, I was not the only novice load controller who used to wait with baited breath for the aeroplane to become airborne.

And for a long time, I used to worry until it had touched down at the other end.

Maybe because counting was so much part of my life in general, it became almost a compulsion. When I see sets of numbers, I automatically start adding or subtracting, whether it is dates or ages or prices or times….

By nature, it seems I am inclined to be superstitious.

In the end, I did not like that first boarding school at all. But whether I associated those feelings with my assigned identity number, I don’t know.

However I do not like the number 5. Don’t want it in my phone number.

Yet there it is, the ubiquitous 5. It always finds me. And as far as I know, it has never brought me lasting harm.

7 and 3. I am always comfortable with those. Mostly I prefer odd numbers (except 5).


Absolutely no idea.

So far, I have never thrown a fit over being assigned a number I didn’t care for (no, not even that awful middle seat). I just observe it and make a mental note.

It is my most profound wish not to end up in a nursing home.

But if I should, I can imagine the nurses puzzling:

“Why is she always counting?”

4 thoughts on “Counting

  1. That sounds like a lifetime of torture to me, Carolyn. An obsession with counting is something I have only witnessed from people on the Autistic Spectrum. However, it certainly hasn’t done you any harm. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Oh my … 2 sounds like quite an important number! I had name labels on all of my clothes when I went to boarding school. I hate numbers (maths were never my strong point), but it seems you were quite hooked (and good) with numbers! I have never thought which number I do and don’t like … I assume that means I’m not into counting then 😉.

Leave a Reply