COUNTRY CONNECTIONS: A lifetime of learning about Murphy's Law
When I was growing up my dad often used to conclude a recounting of some frustrating occurrence by saying, "That's just Murphy's Law." When I was very young I never questioned exactly what that was, figuring it was another set of rules, similar t...
When I was growing up my dad often used to conclude a recounting of some frustrating occurrence by saying, "That's just Murphy's Law."
When I was very young I never questioned exactly what that was, figuring it was another set of rules, similar to the Ten Commandments.
I probably was in elementary school when I asked my mom who Murphy was. At first she looked puzzled, then smiled as I explained that he was the one who made the laws that Dad kept talking about. She told me that Murphy's Law wasn't really a law, but a way of saying that if something can go wrong, it will.
That explanation made sense to me when I started thinking about some of the things that my dad had attributed to Murphy's Law. For example, if you cut alfalfa, swathed grain or left a trailer filled with hay outside, even if you were in the middle of a drought, it was sure to rain. Ditto for washing the car.
There also were many examples of Murphy's Law when it came to animals: If you left a gate unlatched at the far end of a pasture where the cows had not wandered to 99 times before, they would be sure to find it the one time the gate was open. Or the cow that was two weeks overdue to calve would start having delivery trouble 15 minutes before you are ready to leave for church on Sunday morning.
Now that I'm a parent, my own children are learning about Murphy's Law as I've attributed many frustrating situations to it.
Here are a few of my own examples of how I see Murphy's Law is fulfilled at my house:
- If you make a blueberry coffee cake for a potluck and don't put a lid on it because it's still too warm, it will land upside when you fall on the ice. The coffee cake, which would otherwise stick to the pan if you tried to remove it, will land in one beautiful piece in the dirty snow.
- If the horses almost never get sick, one of them will appear to be at death's door if you are going to the last basketball game of your son's season.
- One of your children will get carsick if you are traveling to a dress-up event.
- If you wear your office clothes out to the barn because you are just going to turn off the barn light you will discover that the horses got out and wreaked havoc on the neatly stacked bales of hay.
- The only days that the dogs are tardy coming back from their morning run around the countryside is when you need to leave for work early.
- If I am in the midst of rinsing dishes one of my children will have to get a drink of water because they are dying of thirst.
- If my children loved a meal they had at their friends' house it won't taste the same if I make it, even if I use the exact same recipe down to the 1/8 teaspoon of salt.
- If you wash the mittens, snow pants and winter coats and put them away because all of the snow has been gone for several weeks and the temperatures are in the 70s, you will get a spring snowstorm.
I'm not sure if everything I blame on Murphy's Law would survive a technical analysis of its original premise, but it somehow takes a little of the sting away to blame it on good old Murphy. I'm pretty sure my friend Charlie, the only real Murphy I know, won't take it personally.