Murphy's Laws for the '90S

By Viets, Elaine | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 4, 1995 | Go to article overview

Murphy's Laws for the '90S


Viets, Elaine, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


THE '90s are halfway over, and I haven't half a clue where they're going, or even where they've been. Athletic shoes are getting bigger. Portions are getting smaller. Otherwise, there don't seem to be any rules.

Fortunately, a local man, Lee the Rehabber, has stepped in with some laws for our lawless times. Lee says he's written some Murphy's Laws for the '90s.

The original Murphy's Law is: "If anything can go wrong, it will." It has been the guiding principle of our century.

There are many theories about who Murphy was. One of the foremost Murphy scholars is author Paul Dickson. He made himself director of the Murphy Center for the Codification of Human and Organizational Law. (Well, if he didn't, who would?)

Paul says many believe the real Murphy "was a military man, Capt. Ed Murphy" who laid down the law in 1949. That makes sense. No one can create a SNAFU like the military.

Novelist Samuel Beckett was probably the first person to formulate the law "in his novel named, of course, `Murphy' " in 1938, a year when everything was going wrong.

Beckett wrote something similar to Murphy's Law, Paul said. "Ed Murphy was the first person to articulate it."

Lee the Rehabber is fit to follow in these footsteps. All rehabbers know that things can go wrong. Take a typical rehabber operation, like fixing a leaky faucet in the upstairs bath. It's been dripping since 1976, but for some reason, you can't stand it any more.

You start to work. Three thousand dollars and 3 million curses later you have ripped out the sink and the toilet, put in a new shower, a new floor, new plastic pipes, and made one trip to the emergency room for 13 stitches in your arm.

Lee is a man who knows things go wrong. He codified these 10 laws, with some amendments from me:

Lee's Laws of the '90s

1. Lee's Law of the VCR: When you finally set the VCR clock to the right time, there will be a power blackout.

2. Lee's Law of the Obsolete Owner: Any 4-year-old can program the VCR 10 times faster than you. …

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