May 19, 2008
Murphy Meets St. Anthony
Well, it happened again yesterday. An editor e-mailed, wondering what I thought of his memo. I said I'd be glad to respond as soon as I got a copy. Shortly after clicking "send" I was pawing through my in-basket and saw the memo which had been sitting there for a month!
We know Murphy. If something can go wrong, it will. Those of us raised Catholic know St. Anthony, patron saint of lost items. So if you put these two issues together, I guess you get: If something can get lost, it will. Like that report my boss just sent me, or the letter from an author, or the form I was supposed to fill out.
More often than I'd like to admit, something such as these goes missing in my office. People who visit take one look at the disarray in my workspace and assume on the Myers-Briggs inventory that I am a P. "Oh, no," I tell them, "I'm a J on overload." So I guess it's no surprise that items seem to walk away.
Get better organized? You bet I should. But no matter what there will always be that time or two something goes astray. So when that happens, I search and scour and trail and track the wayward piece, often to no avail. Over the years, the best way I've found to defeat Murphy and invoke the care of St. Anthony is to not run from Murphy but run at him. Admit the wrong. Give up. Embrace humility. Plead human frailty. I go back to my boss and ask for another copy of the report, tell the author I can't find the letter or go to HR for another copy of the form. Almost inevitably, as soon as I do that, the original turns up immediately.
Hmmm. I wonder if that actually proves Murphy. Admitting you lost something is the best way to find it. Or was it someone other than Murphy who said something like that?