We are all probably somewhat familiar with the phrase, “Murphy’s Law”. This phrase is typically associated with sayings which refer to something that goes wrong or takes an unexpected turn. Recently I did a bit of research into the origin of Murphy’s Laws, particularly the person for whom the sayings are named.
One fact I learned is that Mr. Murphy was most likely not the originator of the concept. There is evidence that similar expressions were in existence prior to Mr. Murphy. However, in 1949, at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Captain Ed Murphy was working on an Air Force project and discovered that a technician had done a wiring job incorrectly. He stated with profound frustration, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he will find it.”(www.murphys-laws.com). This saying eventually took on a more generic meaning, “If anything can go wrong, it will,” which ultimately became the standard for a multitude of trite sayings and expressions of negativity, from serious to humorous to outrageous, which describe the common human experience.
In many cases Murphy’s laws appeal to us because we identify with them so well. For example: “Nothing is as easy as it looks.” I’m sure a specific example came to your mind as it did mine. For me, this reminded me of a recipe I tried last week, one I was sure would be perfect but was not. You probably thought of something unique to your life experience, yet we both identified with this common element of life.
Here’s another one: “The greater the value of the rug, the greater the probability the cat will throw up on it.” Now I don’t have a cat, nor do I own any rugs of value, but I still identify with this, as we spilled ketchup on a brand new rug in our living room just hours after it was installed. (Don’t even ask me why there was a ketchup bottle in the living room!) Some things are just bound to happen, no matter how much we try to avoid them. And sometimes laughter is the best way to cope.
So, with all due respect to Mr. Murphy and all others who have contributed to this familiar and loved way of expressing humor in the midst of the negatives of life, here are a few of my own “Murphy’s Laws at Our House”. In fact, #3 just happened yesterday! Perhaps you will identify with some of these, or maybe this list will inspire you to write a few of your own.
Our Top Ten Murphy’s Laws at Home:
1. You will use your last fresh egg just minutes before your daughter reminds you she needs brownies for the school bake sale tomorrow.
2. The morning you forget to put your trash out to the curb, the trash collector will come especially early.
3. The morning you do remember to put your trash out to the curb, trash pickup will be delayed one day due to a holiday.
4. The number of toothbrushes in use in your household will always be greater than the number of people living in the house.
5. The number of shoes visible in the house entryway will far exceed the number of people actually living in the house.
6. The amount of bird poop on your car windshield will be greatest on the day you are driving in a funeral procession.
7. You will go through your pile of mail the day after that bill was due.
8. The more tomatoes you plant in your garden, the less it will rain that summer.
9. As soon as you finish one load of laundry, two more will appear.
10. If you go looking for the TV remote in the couch, you will find everything but the TV remote.
So remember, when your life’s journey does not go as well as you planned, laughter truly can be the best medicine!
(This article first appeared in Ohio Family Magazine in October, 2012)