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When it rains, it just rains

When you work in a bar and it gets quiet, they send some bartenders home. ‘We don’t need you – knock off.’ So then what happens? It gets busy of course. And inevitably one of the remaining bartenders remarks, ‘Isn’t that always what happens… Whenever they send people home, it gets busy. Murphy’s Law…’

That rationale is exactly like saying that every time you walk across all 8 eight lanes on highway with a blindfold on, you get hit by a car.

The reason that it gets busy is not anything to do with some cosmic forces making what you don’t expect to happen, happen. That’s not some fallacy called ‘Murphy’s Law’. It’s logic. There’s no pattern to these events, it’s just stuff that happens. And it happens for a logical reason.

Less bartenders means more people to serve and more work to do, which slows the turnover of people getting their drinks, which leads to a bigger queue for drinks, which leads to having to work faster, which leads to breaking glasses, which leads to cleaning up, which leads to one less bartender because he has to clean up the mess. Meanwhile, the queue keeps getting bigger, and the workload, relative to before, seems a great deal more.

I’ve never caught a bus that then got into an accident. There’s bazillions of car accidents every day around the world and I’ve caught maybe half a bazillion buses in my life. And today, before I caught the bus home, and during, I kept thinking I’ve never been on a bus that’s had an accident. Never. Never ever.

Perfect time for an accident right?

The bus didn’t crash.

Score: Me 1- 0 Murphy’s Law

We also exaggerate things, because the negative events of the past are much more memorable compared to the non-events. You remember the time you were late for that flight or that interview or wedding because of traffic, but our brains just don’t seem to remember all the times we made it on time nearly as much.

Walking home down this regular-looking alleyway after work, in a neighbourhood full of big dogs, I also thought that I’ve never had a vicious dog run up and maul me. That was less likely than the bus crash, but still it didn’t happen. It could easily have been a ‘Every time I think I’m not going to get mauled, I do’ moment. But it wasn’t.

2-0.

Then I went to the beach and threw the ball for Chunky. I was going to go home but then decided to stay a bit longer. Perfect time to dislocate my knee and then think, ‘Of course… I decide to stay a bit longer and got hospitalised.’

It didn’t happen. Three nil.

If you take note of all the times you need something to work and it actually does, you’ll see that Murphy’s Law is bullshit. Take a note next time you have 2 minutes to send one important email and the internet does work. The next time you leave late for the airport and do make it on time. The next time you think you’ve never ever crashed on the street 2 minutes from home and don’t.

Also, if you crash the car  in the more-than-familiar backstreets 2 minutes from home, saying Murphy’s Law can cause that is like saying that a magic rock can keep tigers away.

Making simple errors when we don’t expect to is not Murphy’s Law, it’s half-assedness and a lax approach to routine things that you do everyday. Laziness is what causes the mistakes, not anything else.

My wife says it’s no big deal, that it’s just something that people say to ease the pain of unfortunate things happening, and maybe bond with each other in a time of minor disasters happening. But then maybe people back in the day used to bond over the Earth being flat or smoking being good for you, and we don’t do that anymore either.

‘When it rains, it pours’ is the same thing. When you haven’t experienced something for a while, the intensity of the drought breaking event is magnified tenfold. The impact of noteworthy (most notably, negative events) is much more significant, therefore memorable, than a period of mediocrity or tedium.

*Incidentally, walking home from the beach I did walk directly into a huge spiderweb and a tiny 8-legged black monster abseiled its way right onto the back of my head. I freaked out a bit, but I refuse to believe it’s Murphy’s Law. I stayed later after sunset, which therefore made it harder to see, which therefore made me walk into the spiderweb and get this mini-beast crawl on my head.

Okay, then… So…

Me 3-1 Murphy’s Law.

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