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Murphy was right – life is frustrating

(Editor’s Note: Cal Bryant is on vacation this week. The following is from his column archive, first appearing in print on Aug. 22, 2002.)

We’ve all heard Murphy’s simple theory concerning life – &uot;if anything can go wrong, it will.&uot;

Some say that Murphy was an optimist, but all I really know about him is that Air Force Captain Edward A. Murphy accidentally stumbled upon his now-famous line while working on a special project at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949.

However, Murphy isn’t alone when it comes to the proverbial wheels falling off life’s bandwagon. Personally, I can come-up with a few hateful little morsels that make our lives here on Earth so frustrating. Here’s a sampling:

If you’re running late, you’ll get stuck behind the slowest vehicle.

If you’re in the shortest checkout line, there’s a 100 percent chance of a lengthy wait due to a price check.

Keeping on the same theme as the previous line, once reaching the cashier, chances are great that they will either, (a) have to change the register tape; (b) run out of change and have to wait for the girl in the office to get off the phone – no doubt discussing how she plans to fix her hair and do her nails for an upcoming date – to bring those dreaded coin rollers to the cashier; or, in the worse case scenario, (c) all of the above.

You can be operating the only car approaching an intersection and the traffic light will turn red.

If you arrive early for work to impress the boss, make plans to stay late because he/she will load you down with added chores.

Just about the time you break in a good shirt, you’ll be forced to use it as a Chamois to dry your car.

The day you leave home dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, the weather will turn ugly. Ditto for leaving home dressed in long sleeves and pants as the weather will turn sunny and hot.

As you sit down for a long-awaited meal, either the phone will ring or someone will knock at your door.

The phone in your home also rings during two other occasions – either when you’ve just locked your door on the way out or while you’re fumbling for your keys in an attempt to gain entry.

A toothache always arrives just in time for the weekend, when the dentist office is closed.

Your car radio will lose the signal of the station you’re listening to just about the time the guitar solo kicks in on your favorite song.

That little squeak coming from your car carries a big price tag to repair.

As you race back to the video store to return a movie by the 9 p.m. deadline, you learn they closed at 8:59.

You have all six numbers right on the $100 million Lotto jackpot only to learn 99 others have the identical set of numbers.

Those are just a few of my favorites, but there are others who take Murphy’s Law to a whole new level. They are as follows:

The Unspeakable Law – As soon as you mention something – if it’s good, it goes away; if it’s bad, it happens.

Nonreciprocal Laws of Expectations – Negative expectations yield negative results. Positive expectations yield negative results.

Howe’s Law – Every man has a scheme that will not work.

Zymurgy’s First Law of Evolving Systems Dynamics – Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

Etorre’s Observation – The other line always moves faster.

The Law of Selective Gravity – An object will fall so as to do the most damage.

An Alternative Law to Selective Gravity – The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

Maier’s Law – If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.

Boren’s First Law – When in doubt, mumble.

The Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences – Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Barth’s Distinction – There are two types of people – those who divide people into two groups and those who don’t.

Segal’s Law – A man with one watch will always know what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

The Ninety-Ninety Rule of Project Schedules – The first 90 percent of a task will take 90 percent of the time to complete. The last 10 percent will take the other 90 percent.

Hoare’s Law of Large Problems – Inside every large problem is a small problem trying to get out.

I’ll close out this column with my all-time favorite. What always follows two days of rain? Monday, of course.