Later that day as he was crossing some elevated train tracks, his usually reliable car stopped dead across the rails. Nervously Ralf tried to restart the car but it was completely flooded. He had no choice but to put the transmission in neutral and try to push it off the tracks. Remembering the lethal combination of change in his pocket and potentially deadly situation he faced because of it, he quickly sprang into action.
Unfortunately his vehicle was a heavy, older model and there was the added obstruction of a hump on either side of the tracks. He tried with all his might but it would only rock a few inches in either direction. Then he heard the train whistle blow!
Ralf gave a few more futile attempts but gave up when it became obvious that it wasn’t budging. The train was approaching fast. Something had to done very soon. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the thirteenth dime and pitched it away. The train kept blowing its whistle and racing toward the car unaffected by his common sense solution.
He could feel the tracks rattle beneath his feet from the massive machine bearing down upon him. He couldn’t understand why altering the unlucky coin combination didn’t free him from fate’s deadly mission. Initially, fear rendered him unable to move. All he could imagine was being mutilated by the deadly impact.
In what could only be described as an involuntary reaction, his hand opened and released ALL of the change. At that instant the train switched to another track and missed him and the car completely. From this convincing outcome, he came to believe the only way to completely avoid disaster was to discard all of the coins when he held that exact combination.
Over the ensuing superstitious years, Ralf Ludwig went through life walking around ladders and avoiding black cats. He constantly checked his pockets for the ‘deadly combination’ and handled mirrors with the utmost care. On the rare occasions where he did possess thirteen dimes and a nickel, he quickly threw them over his left shoulder. All the while, silently congratulating himself on averting immanent disaster.
He’d always been considered ‘a little touched in the head’ by the townspeople but when word spread of his coin obsession, it moved him into a whole new realm of notoriety. He was dubbed ‘Crazy coin Ralf’ and the unflattering nickname stuck.