Monday, April 26, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Murphy’s Sister’s Law

An undocumented law of the universe, and serious evidence for the existence of prankster gods, is Murphy’s Sister’s Law. Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Murphy’s Sister’s Law states that anything that does go wrong and remains frustratingly wrong has a high likelihood of going right as soon as you get somebody else to look at it. If Murphy spends an hour trying to get Microsoft Word to open, and no amount of double clicking and rebooting helps him, then the instant he calls his sister over to look at it, Word will spring into action, acting innocent and perfect.

The law holds for more than computing. How many times has a mechanic found nothing wrong with your car when you know he wanted to charge you for something exorbitant? How many times was there one thing you missed in a Math problem that you didn’t notice was there until somebody pointed it out? And there’s the mother of all Murphy’s Sister’s Cases: somebody opening a jar of anything in seconds when you spent minutes wringing your shirt around the lid. Murphy’s Sister apparently loved food that came in jars.

Murphy’s Law has long been considered odd, given how many times it clearly does not execute. Anything that can go wrong usually doesn’t; things go right all the time, which is why we recognize when they go wrong. We get frustrated because this one thing (or these few things) refuses to go right so we can ignore it like the million things that are constantly going right. Murphy’s Sister’s Law serves to illustrate that sometimes things going right can be even more annoying than them going wrong. Like art, it’s all a matter of timing.


  1. I often call this the "Boss Effect" it won't work until you call your boss over. At which point it will work and you will look like an idiot.

  2. My favorite: you can't find something until you tell someone you can't find it. I started using this law to my advantage. "Where are my keys?" and they appear. The caveat: someone has to hear you ask, and there has to be the chance of appearing foolish.

  3. Truer words have never been spoken. ;-)

  4. Witty and utterly inventive...

    I've had a few run-ins with the chick myself... So very very true.

  5. I never knew Murphy had a sister.

  6. Love this one! Also, I agree with Shelly's "Boss Effect," but I love the Murphy's Sister Law idea!!

  7. I would like Murphy's sister to come live in my junk drawer please.

    Then when I say "I can never find a big bag of gold when I need it....."

    [think it'd work?]


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