I grew up hearing about some guy named Murphy, who had apparently passed a law that mandates “if anything can go wrong, it will.“
I had no idea who Murphy was, but I didn’t like him because some kind of trouble or problem was always associated with him.
When we had an important appointment or event to attend, and left in plenty of time, yet ended up being late because a tire blew out, Murphy’s Law was quoted. The tires showed no warning signs of potential problems before we left, but because of Murphy’s Law there was some unseen flaw that presented itself at a most inconvenient time. It could just as easily have happened while my Dad was driving past the tire repair shop, with no pressing appointment or schedule to keep,
rather than where no help was available.
But really, does it ever happen that way?
As an adult, I’ve had plenty of Murphy’s Law moments myself, including the untimely breakdown of vehicles. I had the unfortunate experience a few years ago of having the transmission on my SUV fail, about halfway into a 700 mile trip by myself, while pulling a fully loaded U-Haul trailer on the interstate. At night. In the middle of nowhere. On Friday night.
I had my truck serviced before the trip, and the U-Haul size and weight were under the maximum for that vehicle, which came with a factory towing package installed. Towing wasn’t the problem, it just exacerbated a problem the transmission had that could only be detected by taking it apart, making it a prime target for Murphy’s Law.
The nearest repair shop was miles away, not open on weekends, and of course did not have the parts needed to fix it.
I had all weekend in a roadside motel to contemplate Murphy’s Law while waiting for Monday morning to get a diagnosis, then another day to wait for parts and the rebuild.
There were better, more convenient places to break down a couple of hours before, or even farther down the road where it was ultimately fixed. There were certainly better motel options, such as not having to drag the dresser in front of the door because it barely closed and had a flimsy lock. A lock that wouldn’t keep the night manager out if he decided to be more aggressive about trying to change my mind from my NO! answer when he propositioned me as I checked in. Or when he stopped by later to “see if I needed anything“. I didn’t move the dresser to open the door. I just needed him to leave me alone! Creepy guy!
Some of my recent experiences with Murphy’s Law have revolved around the laws of Murphy concerning computers. There was the laptop issue that I blogged about last August – Black Screen of Death Claims Another Unsuspecting Laptop, which was my last blog post until Saga of a Neglected Blog on May 23. That post included my determination to “start from today and blog on ahead”. In the past 5 days since posting that challenge to myself for the whole world to read, Murphy’s Law has given me plenty of material for a blog post about the frustrations of Murphy’s Law.
Murphy’s Law related to computers struck again earlier this week when the DSL modem stopped working, with no previous indication it had any problems. The computer connected fine the night before, then the next morning it wouldn’t connect. No software or hardware changes had been made, no settings changed, and no updates or downloads to the computer. After running diagnostics and trying the suggested fixes to no avail, I called our DSL provider’s support line.
More than an hour and many “go here, do this, now try to connect” attempts the tech concluded that the DSL modem was bad. And informed me it was not still under warranty. I’m sure “items will need repair or replacement soon after the warranty expires” is one of Murphy’s Laws.
The question now was, do we want to buy a new modem from them, which would ship out for overnight delivery? Or do we want to buy a compatible one from a store? Here is where Murphy’s Law of decisions comes into play, and if the wrong one is made, your day goes from bad to worse.
We made the wrong one.
Our choice was made by following this reasoning:
1) We could be back online the same day, instead of having to wait for a delivery the next afternoon,
2) We were already planning a shopping trip to an electronics retailer later that day, and in store purchases are easier to deal with if there’s a problem with the product.
3) And said retailer had a compatible modem for $25 less.
Recap: Same day vs. waiting 24 hours, buying in store for customer service, and save money.
We chose to buy our own, fully believing that was the wise choice, not realizing that Murphy’s Law was just waiting to spring a surprise on us that would make us regret our decision.
We followed the steps for ‘quick installation’ and everything went smoothly until we tried to connect to the internet. It would connect if plugged directly into the computer, but not when plugged into the wireless router. The manual said they have 24/7 support, so I called them and went through all the steps again with him.
Once he verified that the modem would work when directly hooked to the computer, he said they don’t offer support for connecting to routers other than their own, and that I would have to call the router company’s tech support. He didn’t do anything that we had not already done, or make it work any better than it did before the call.
The most annoying part about that call is that I told him at the beginning of the call about the problem only being with connecting to the router, not the modem itself. That was a half hour wasted.
Oh, but it gets even better!
By now it was 11:00 p.m., but our router company also has 24/7 support, so I called them and had to go through the whole spiel again about what the problem was. The tech told me it was probably just a matter of configuring the router to communicate with the new modem, something that only takes a few minutes. That sounded too good to be true at that point, and it should have, as it turned out.
He had me check some settings on the router software and said he can easily get it connected, unless the router is bad. The router is a couple of years newer than the modem, so we’re thinking it just needs configuring. I’m waiting for him to start the configuring process when he informs me that our warranty has expired on the router. I foolishly thought that just meant that if the router is bad we have to pay to replace it.
Wrong! It also means no tech support unless we pay for it.
The choices were $29.95 for him to fix it, then warranty the fix for 14 days, or $39.95 for the fix and a 6 month warranty. If the router is bad, or goes bad in that time, they give us a $15 rebate toward a new one. It was worth $10 more to get 5-1/2 months more of warranty to us, but there went the money we saved by buying the modem ourselves, plus another $15.
That is an example of Murphy’s Law of money; if it’s going to cost you, it’s probably going to cost you more than you expected. Also, if you save money, you will probably immediately have an unexpected expense that costs at least the amount you saved.
As it turned out, it took the tech an hour and a half to configure the router and get a working internet connection. Everything he had me try kept failing, and he had me trying the same things over and over, with the same results. Finally, I heard someone talking to him in the background, then he asked me to change the PPPoE setting to Automatic detection, save changes, and try to connect. It did. Maybe Murphy’s Law of tech support was operating on his end that time; he told me it would only take a few minutes, but a few minutes turned into 90 minutes. And the tech needed his own tech support.
Charging for tech support for their own product is one way to sell an extended warranty, and to continue to make money after the warranty runs out. But the probability of an issue just after the extended warranty runs out is actually greater, since the item is that much older.
Maybe that’s Murphy’s Law of Warranties.
Now we know that our DSL provider would have configured the whole connection if we had purchased the modem from them. Is that Murphy’s Law of Hindsight?
In hindsight, mine, not Murphy’s Law, each of these experiences could have been much worse. That can always be applied to what happens in life, whether we realize it at the time or not. Things can always go wrong (or even more wrong) but that does not mean they always will, regardless of what Murphy’s Law says.
I think Murphy’s Law experiences can also be referred to as life happening, or as some say, “that’s life“. Good things and bad things happen to all of us, but it seems like we tend to remember the bad things more clearly, and longer.
Life is full of surprises, and many of them are worth blogging about.
As I finished this post and scrolled down to put the post tags in I had yet another Murphy’s Law experience. The ‘Related Articles’ area has a whole list of blog posts about Murphy’s Law that I did not see until now. I suppose this isMurphy’s Law of blog posts; that the very same subject a blogger decides to blog about on WordPress will have already been blogged about by several other bloggers on WordPress. But since it’s already written, I’m adding my Murphy’s Law post as one more to go into the selection.
I’m including a link at the bottom of this post to a website I found that has an extensive list of Murphy’s Law sayings on a variety of subjects. It’s entertaining reading, and a humorous take on many of the frustrations of life.
Speaking of entertaining and humorous, could this be Murphy being chased by angry chickens?
“Murphy’s law is a popular adage that states that “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance,” or more commonly, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” A number of variants on the rule have been formulated, as have several corollaries.” WikiQuote – Murphy’s Law
Murphy’s Laws Website