We’ve probably all done it at some point: You’ve just gotten home; it’s late at night; your house is otherwise empty; and yet, when you go into the bathroom… you immediately check behind the shower curtain for a serial killer. Just, y’know, in case. Of course, not all of us make it a habit to do so — but a lot more of us than you probably think do, as a recent AskReddit thread underlined. The thread, which was posted by Redditor u/sehrish332 on Thursday, asked Redditors who check behind the shower curtain whenever they enter a bathroom what their plan is if they ever actually find a serial killer hiding there — and with over 5,500 comments currently posted, it’s clear that making sure someone nefarious isn’t lurking in your shower is something a good deal of us do on a regular basis.
My initial thought upon seeing the title of the thread was this: I am SO RELIEVED I am not the only one who does this. Do I have any reason to suspect that a serial killer might be hiding behind my shower curtain?Of course not. Yes, I realize that there are roughly between 25 and 50 active serial killers in the United States right now — which is honestly kind of a lot (just imagine 50 Ted Bundys running around the country simultaneously and it’ll start to seem like a lot to you, too) — but the odds of one having gotten into my apartment without me knowing are slim, given that I work from home and am also kind of a hermit. (In borrowed words, I’m always home. I’m uncool.) And yet! I still check.
And, it turns out, there are reasons why everyone who’s in this weird and irrational boat with me does it, too. In a piece about the psychology of irrational fears published by The Atlantic in 2014, Olga Khazan detailed a few a few of them: First, humans sometimes have trouble putting rational fears into context, which can cause us to be more afraid of things that probably won’t hurt us (like serial killers hiding in the shower) than things that are statistically much more likely to hurt to hurt us (car crashes, for example); and second, we fear what we can’t control. The idea of a murderer hiding in a place where we're typically at our most vulnerable taps into both of these psychological quirks.
Interestingly, my own strategy for fighting the whole serial-killer-hiding-in-the-shower conundrum can be seen as an attempt to exert control over a situation in which I might not otherwise have it: I usually try just not to keep the shower curtain closed in the first place. Serial killers can’t hide behind your curtain if it’s always open. (Fighting off mildew, meanwhile, is clearly low on my list of priorities.)
As for how others think they’d deal with the same situation? Well, let’s have a look at some of the most notable and/or creative answers. Is your strategy on the list? Head on over to AskReddit for more. Who knows? Maybe you’ll think up some new ideas while you’re there.
It never hurts to be prepared.