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April 23, 2021

Worthy to Print Column | Murphy’s Law

By George Worthy, Gonzales Columnist

Have you ever heard of a guy named Edsel Murphy? He was not a politician or a doctor or any of the professions that are common. You may have heard the name, but perhaps you don’t know why it sounds so familiar. But whether you have heard his name or heard someone else speak of him, you must know this guy had a way of explaining what is going on when we are so confused about what is truly happening to us and our laws. 

This is the guy who dwelled on esoteric law of general and specific laws delineating inanimate objects. His work has never been properly appreciated by authorities that may have their own ideas of how the universe should operate. Edsel simply stated what most of us know and yet failed to understand. 

I think, since we are being bombarded with information out of Washington on a daily basis and we sometimes are confused as to what is truly happening, that we might review the writings of Mr. Edsel at this point in our lives to try and understand and use his laws as they may influence what we do or say. This is particularly useful when more confusing information slips out of the big White House in Washington on a daily basis. 

One of the first laws that Mr. Edsel points out as a universal law is, “Anything that can go wrong will.” So it doesn’t matter exactly what is being said because if there is a way for the information to be very important, it won’t be understood. One that makes a lot of sense to me is another that I’m sure most of you have been witness to: “All warranty and guarantee clauses become void upon payment of invoice.”

I think I have been a witness to this law within the past year a couple of times. I have bought shoes that were too small and an air conditioner that doesn’t condition the air and in both cases it was just a little past the warranty by the time that I discovered the faults, and the time had just ran out on the guarantee as I was calling the company involved. 

Another of his laws that was forced upon me is, “Any wire cut to length will be too short.” You would surely understand that I had been a victim of this law as often as I try to be the electrician of the house or try to find the short in my wiring of my pickup. I try to stay away from anything that is in any way connected to electricity because I can’t even change a light bulb without feeling that shocking feeling you get when the wires are not insulated or when I put two positive wires together instead of making sure one is negative and the other positive. 

I believe I was in the Army when I discovered that he had already written a law about trying something new “in the field,” instead of testing the operation of the mortar, in the rear area, prior to dropping the explosive projectile down the tube of the mortar in the field. It is very taxing to sit there counting the seconds after dropping the round down the tube before you try to lay the tube down and slide the round out. It is then that you notice the metal ring around your finger that you had to pull before releasing the projectile. 

Mortar rounds are contact explosives. They can come out of the tube really fast and wiggle through the air, but when they hit the ground nose first, they make a terrible explosion. I don’t know how hard they have to hit the bottom of the tube because I simply got up and ran. My job was dropping the round not extracting it from the tube. That’s what sergeants are for. 

There are many laws from Mr. Edsel, but the next one I came to understand was, “A dropped tool will land where it can do the most damage.” A secondary law is, “That you discover the size of a wrench you hold as you crawl under a car is never the one you need.” Mr. Edsel had lots of time on his hands I guess because he has written a law that covers just about anything I have ever done.

Math has always been troubling to me and his third law of mathematics is, “All constants are variable.” Or, “In any given computation, the figure that is most obviously correct will be the source of error.” Or, to expand upon this, “If a circuit cannot fail, it will.” Or, “A fail-safe circuit will destroy all others.” Another law that seems to catch me when I am not paying attention is, “A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.”

And another that I seem to run into the most is, “After the the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.” Or, “After the access cover has been secured by 16 hold down screws, it will be discovered that the gasket has been omitted.” 

I seem to be reminded of these laws on a daily basis. There are many more for which I don’t have room for in this paper. There must be another law that covers that. Oh, here it is! In some cases where no reference is given, the source material was misplaced during the preparation of this paper. (Another example of Murphy’s Law.) In accordance with this law, these misplaced documents will turn up on the date of publication of this paper.

God Bless.

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