Nothing better than when I catch up with Murphy

Murphy has really been dealing it out lately. Nothing I can't handle, but it's winter, and Murphy and his infuriating Law always gets stroppy when the cold closes in.

I am enjoying the battle.

I have written about Murphy here before, how one should attack the callous bastard, and not just lie down on the ground cowering in resignation like most of the human race.

Murphy knows I like to attack, it has led to his pulling some pretty fancy tricks over the years, moving two steps ahead with a thin smile, a smile almost of impending victory, not realising my middle name is Three Steps Ahead.

Last week, he spent all of Monday hitting me with every knuckle on his arm - and let's say straight away that Murphy is a He, no woman would ever be this devious, this insensitive to what actually wounds the human spirit.

Picking on me for an entire day might seem a little unfair, but in all honesty, I went to HIS house to open proceedings, so really, I deserved all I got.

Murphy lives at Telecom. We all know this, like we know Santa Claus lives at NZ Post. If you ever want to see Murphy at his worst, ring this huge, lugubrious, useless company and you will see what I mean.

I rang them after 23 minutes trying to communicate all by myself on a cellphone.

Topping up, the Indian phone robot tells you, is simple, it will only take a few minutes. Wrong. It takes the life cycle of a monarch butterfly, especially if you make mistakes.

Murphy has given me hands that shake from excessive medication, one of his crueller moves, so when I type in numbers, my fingers often err. And entering credit card numbers, you can't go back, well, not on my budget Samsung. So I have to start again and listen to all my activities, account balances and payment options. But I finally got through, and the Indian phone robot said this particular service wasn't available. This is Murphy at his most maddening.

I kept trying. Occasionally, I entered a queue. Then the service went down again.

At times like this, rational thought must be abandoned, you have to think in a kind of zigzag lateral way that Murphy would never contemplate. So I rang Global Roaming. Murphy wasn't there.

I got straight through, they put me on to a real human who could process my request like life was before Faceless Incompetency was invented, and I was done.

I will gloss over Murphy's other moves that Monday - making me disturb 40 apples at New World and inexplicably buy window envelopes instead of plain ones at Whitcoulls, Murphy knows I don't turn things over - and go straight to how I finished him off.

Two foot stress fractures over the past year had given me a limp that had close personal friends referring to me behind cupped hands as the Hunchfoot of Notre Dame. I scanned the hospital's resources hungrily and finally found a department called Orthotics.

I knew I would need matching socks for this appointment, and I don't believe in matching socks, a sock is a sock, it doesn't have to wear the same clothes. But I do have one pair that match, my Kiss Rock'n'Roll socks.

They live in a mountainously meandering clothes drawer. Murphy is at his best hiding socks, and I knew if I ruffled through the drawer in an undisciplined way, it could take forever. Murphy would just keep bobbing and weaving, missing sock on foot. So, again, lateral thought - I threw everything all over the bedroom floor until the sought-after sock finally put its head above the turret.

Murphy's people might argue he won this round, because I now had a 30-minute job putting everything back.


I had a pair of matching socks to impress the Orthotics man with, and I would give the grandchildren sugar to put back the debris that was all over the floor.

Nothing beats beating Murphy. Not even my lovely new Orthotic Super Cushion Insoles.

• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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