|As we grow older, and our minds become more capacious to
acquire more knowledge, we learn to count numbers, higher than that in which we are taught as children. As
small children, we have counting and number systems drilled into our head. One through ten are the easiest
numbers for a child to learn, and as they get older, their brains begin to comprehend the concept of larger
numbers. Missing numbers in a floor layout create a plethora of problems. We learn the numbers one through
ten, and then we learn to count higher. We learn that by taking the numbers one through nine, and add a one
in front of them, they become "11", "12", 13", "14", "15", "16", 17" "18", and "19". And we comprehend what
they are and what they represent. But by leaving out numbers, primarily due to superstition, problems erupt.
While "13" is 9 times out of 10 left out of a building's layout, "4", and any number containing a "4" - "14", "24", "34", every floor between 39 and 50... are all left out of buildings in China. Why? Same as 13 in the USA. Superstition. It's phonetic pronunciation in Chinese sounds almost virtually identical to their word for "death." Because of this, our perceptions of the counting systems become null and void.
By missing these numbers when assigning them to their corresponding floors, firemen for one, are the most confused. Missing numbers have led to quite a few documented cases of death in part by an incorrect counting system. Firemen, for example, get a call of a woman stuck in a room on the 14th floor. They are outside, planning on using their ladders and boom cranes to reach that floor. They count from the bottom, one, two, all the way until 14. What's wrong? No one there. Turns out, they counted "13", and the building they were counting didn't possess a 13th floor, and thus the fireman wound up searching the building's 15th floor, thinking it is was the 14th. In this case, without a 13th floor, the floor above 12 would thence become 14. In China, firefighters know that there will never be a "4th floor" or any of it's aforementioned muliples, and thus they are able to compensate for this in their count.
But why can't the firefighters in the United States do the same, and compensate by never including a 13th floor in their count? This is because not all buildings are they same. While most do not contain a 13th floor, several do, but it is hard to know the difference. Master logs are being created to document floor numbers for this very purpose. If a building skips over the 13th floor, it should be written in the log. But several buildings are still undocumented. Mix this with the plethora of buildings that are starting to incorporate a 13th floor into it's layout, and confusion becomes a conundrum. Most 13th floors are empty, vacant, or filled with machinery. They sometimes denoted with the floor number "M". Usually reserved for a building's Mezzanine level, the "M" used as a floor descriptor to describe the 13th floor, comes mainly from "M" being the "13th" letter of the alphabet. It could also be given other designations, like "12b" or "14a", but everybody who knows how to properly count higher than "10", knows that the floor above 12 will always be 13. Other problems arise by giving lower floor numbers a different designation, for example, the Mezzanine or Ground levels. The regular count generally doesn't include these floors, and in the case of a building with 14 floors and a Ground floor, the 13th floor in this case would in fact be the building's 12th floor.
It's generally an inconvienience to not include a 13th floor, or to include a floor numbered "Ground", at
least to those standing outside counting, as they will find that their count is loaded with inaccuracies. But
for those people that strongly dislike the number "13", possessing one within a building could mean the
difference of losing a multitude of business or not. The lose of business could send a business into
financial ruination. It isn't that the building's desingers or their owners are superstitious. This is
merely and mainly done to appease the clientelle that the business possesses. So even though we can't count
a building's floors from the outside, when it's numbering system is vague and disarrayed, we can be left with
the thought, that the number 13 has severely impacted the layout and design of buildings everywhere...