You are familiar with Murphy’s Law, right? The law which states that everything that can go wrong, will.
Enter Barcelona’s [the team I support] Murphy’s Law evening at Anfield. Everything that can possibly go wrong on a football match in a Champions League night went wrong. The early goal, the second, the third and, of course, the nail in the coffin fourth, a corner kick which caught the entire team napping like a bunch of school kids, sealed the team’s exit before reaching the final.
There are many ways of making things go wrong, but the most efficient and the one often chosen by sore losers has even got a name: Murphy’s Law, they call it.
The word was enunciated by Mr. Edward A. Murphy, an American Engineer (1917) who, most probably, had seen a lot of things go wrong before his eyes in his profession.
What is Murphy’s Law, you might ask. It is a supposed law of nature expressed in an amusing way by those who become its victims. More explanation? Okay, if there are two ways of doing a thing and one of them leads to catastrophe, then someone will surely choose it, probably an idiot.
Let’s say there is a lake so wide that if there is an outcrop (rock) in the middle, it simply becomes negligible. There is a boat ready for rent and people take it to reach the other end of the lake safely. But, there are people who take the boat and in the vast immensity of the lake, they choose the outcrop and sail right towards it on a collision course. Wham!
After winning the first leg by three goals to nothing, thanks to an inspirational display of football wizardry from the game’s greatest ever Lionel Messi, Barcelona had three options on Tuesday night’s game. Win, draw and lose only and only by less than a three goal difference. One thing they weren’t supposed to have done was lose by a four goal difference. Well, they despicably lost by four goals to nil. Murphy’s Law!
It is 1920’s. The members of your family are hungry because harvest was poor last year, your mother sends your brother Temelso to Mendefera with loads of money to buy wheat for the family. Two days have passed and he is nowhere to be seen. “Which road did you tell him to take?” asks the neighbor to your mother a bit worried. “Why? I know only of one route and that’s the shortest and the safest as far as I know,” she replies. But, unknown to you, there is also another route long and dangerous and infested with shiftas waiting to pounce on the unwary. The next day a rumor goes around in the village to the effect that Temelso, your brother, had been held up by highwaymen, beaten and robbed.
Why did Temelso choose that particular route when the much trodden one was the safest? Because according to Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
There are hundreds of hotels in town and you choose the one that gangsters have chosen as their hideout. And you chance upon a beautiful lady in the bar.
“What is a beautiful lady like you doing in a place like this?” you venture. The reply will come from behind, from a man who socks it to you real hard and you simply pass out for a few seconds.
Most of the time it is when you are in the bathroom that the telephone rings and it starts to rain the moment you remember you have forgotten your umbrella in the last shop you visited to buy cigarettes
The French describe Murphy’s Law as: La loi de l’emmerdement maximum, meaning the law of maximum vexation. They are right, Napoleon was a good example. There were a lot of lands to be concurred in his time, leaving England aside. Why did he choose Russia of the entire civilized world, a land with horrible weather in winter and inhabited by unruly Cossacks? What was wrong with Mesopotamia or Persia?
Our tradition seems to be aware of Murphy’s Law although it doesn’t know it as such. In Tigrigna we have such words as ginti, mekhalf to signify a situation when things go wrong and look as if they are going right.
Take the misadventure of one city-dweller who, during Derg era, fled to the countryside by night to escape arrest by the Derg’s secret agents, and you know what? Of all the villages scattered in the countryside he had to ‘choose’ the one that had recently become the headquarters of the enemy. They welcomed him with open arms and he was never heard of since.
Here is another example. Someone sets fire to your house. A rescue squad arrives and subdues the flames. You are lucky because your belongings are all intact, except, of course, the box in which you hoarded your money!
James Payn, a British writer, once wrote: I had never had a piece of toast particularly long and wide. But fell upon the sanded floor, and always on the buttered side. Thank you, Mr. Payne for enlightening us on the effects of Murphy’s Law.
Now let’s see what insurance companies and banks had to say about this strange law. We have already seen that if there are two ways of doing things and one of them is surely going to cost a lot of money, someone will do it. Since life is full of choices between doing things the right way and the wrong way and since most people, according to Murphy’s Law, are anyway going to choose the path of destruction, insurance companies will be with us for a long time to come.
Take the titanic, for instance, why did the captain of this colossal ship choose to hit an “Innocent” iceberg floating peacefully in the ocean, when there was already a vast body of water stretching all around him! If our mind is like that, we surely need medical help.
Have you noticed that lotteries are often won by someone who has already a lot of cash in the bank?
Murphy’s Law should not however be taken seriously. There is nothing scientific about it. But, the way the people of the world tend to do things the wrong way all the time, it may not be long before someone will come up with enough clear proofs to put it on par with other famous laws, such as the law of averages or the probability theory.
Finally, for a cynic who this past week saw his favorite team suffer through the rather unfortunate perfect case of “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” on an all-important football match, Murphy’s Law applies perfectly. At least that is what I’m telling myself to help me sleep at night after the nightmare that was my team’s atrocious debacle at Anfiled.