While most of us are familiar with Murphy’s Law — “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” — his other laws are lesser known.
An engineer working on a project at Edwards Air Force Base in California in the 1940s, Edward Murphy is credited with coining the term when after finding a technical error made by a junior tech he stated, “If there’s any way to do it wrong, he will find it.” Over the years it has been interpreted as pretty much the worst-case scenario.
Take for instance, the time I attempted to potty train our middle child right after our third was born and ended up with all three kids covered in tears and other bodily droppings.
Having just spit up all over both of us, I quickly put the baby in her crib when I heard a piercing cry from the boys’ shared bedroom next door. The first thing I noticed when I dashed in was the potty-training toddler triumphantly standing with his arms folded across his chest and a half smirk on his face. He had proudly just done his business — on the only rug in the room. And that’s when I noticed the oldest, who was four at the time, standing frozen with one leg held aloft after having just stepped in said business.
Which brings us to Murphy’s Second Law — “nothing is as easy as it looks.”
Like that time in high school when I bought a waterbed and attempted to fill it by myself.
My dad had put the wooden base of the bed together but wanted to wait until the next day to put the water in. That is when I made the crucial mistake of taking matters into my own hands. Without him knowing, I rerouted the garden house through my bedroom window and began filling the waterbed myself. How hard could it be?
The water was gushing into the queen-sized bed and I hadn’t spilled even a drop. It was going great, until it wasn’t. When I tried to put the cap on is when I realized my mistake — I had filled the bed upside down. There was no way that cap was going to seal with 196 gallons of water pressure against it.
Murphy’s Third Law states “everything takes longer than you think it will.”
You see, while filling the waterbed only seemed to take about 30 minutes, draining it with a one-gallon wet-dry shopvac was another story. In fact, I don’t think I have seen my dad quite as angry as he was during the four hours we spent draining the waterbed mattress. At least we can laugh about the memory 20-some years later. Well, I laugh. He still cringes a bit.
Murphy’s Third Law also applies to every single road trip with one or more kids in tow. In fact, you never realize how small a child’s bladder and attention span are until you have embarked on what was supposed to be an eight-hour excursion but ended up including 13 restroom stops, six snack breaks, four “pull over he’s gonna barfs” and 124 “are we there yets?”
Come to think of it, traveling with kids can also be classified under Murphy’s 14th Law — “if anything can’t go wrong on its own, someone will make it go wrong.”
Chanda Veno is editor at The State Journal. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org