The law according to Mrs Murphy

By Terry Sarten


It is said by some that once the Earth had been created, the day-to-day management was turned over to Mr Murphy. Adam and Eve had applied for the job.

They had turned up for the interview wearing their very best leaves, with shiny, eager faces, clutching the 200-page job description.

This was a very attractive, permanent full-time position. The pay was not that great but, comparing apples with apples, it was OK when you considered the view from the office.

This opportunity to occupy the Earth rent-free, as long as there were no wild parties or ecological disasters, was amazing.

Adam and Eve came out of the interview feeling confident. The question about whether they were scared of snakes had thrown them a bit, but they recovered when the panel moved on to ask about their knowledge of evolutionary theory.

Then, later that day, they were told the job had gone to Murphy. Apparently, it was felt they did not have enough relevant experience and lacked any original ideas. Mr Murphy's interpretation of the law of confounding events had really impressed the interview panel, and they had offered him the job.

Hurt by this rejection, Adam and Eve decided they would show them how it should be done. They would change the world, defy the forces of nature and take charge of the planet. The first step in this process was to set fire to the forests so they would have a better view of the ocean from their open-plan cave.

At first this went well, but they had not counted on Mr Murphy applying his particular laws. The fire got out of hand, sweeping through a huge area of forest, killing animals and destroying the plants they depended on for food. The wind swept the flames back inland and wrecked their cave entrance.

They had to leave their little piece of Eden and move to a new suburb down near the swamp. The swamp was cold and damp. They had to abandon their leaf clothing and wear cloaks made of rushes, which were itchy and scratchy.

Their hut was prone to flooding, so they built a dam. The water spread across the valley, covering the crops and completely ruining the land. Murphy made sure everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

Mr Murphy applied the law of consequences without malice, but he was not happy in his work.

He could see that the more Adam and Eve tried to change and control the world, the more Murphy's Law would confound their plans. He worried about this and often discussed the situation with Mrs Murphy. She knew there were so many laws for Mr Murphy to manage that there was little time for him to do anything else. At home, she escaped the effects of Murphy's Law by checking out where he was working before doing anything.

If he was busy ensuring that someone trying to copy a picture of a woolly mammoth on to a cave wall would run out of red just before the drawing was finished, then have to travel for three days through sabretooth tiger country to buy more - the last box of red having been sold just before he arrived - Mrs Murphy knew she was safe.

She would invite Eve over for coffee and cake, they would talk about their husbands and ponder the potential to outsource the work, at minimal pay rates, to unemployed sinners.

Terry Sarten is a writer, musician, social worker and satarista. Email feedback: tgs@inspire.net.nz

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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