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The Magically Mysterious and Superstitious Backup Plan

Battling Murphy’s Law

By Rex Goode

astyptickeysI’m not one of those men who enjoys shaving. It’s an inconvenient, annoying, and often dangerous necessity. I hated it so much that for one period of my life, I just let it grow. I had a very nice beard and I thought I looked kind of cool in it. Best thing of all, I didn’t have to shave. It was a good plan. The occasional trimming was nowhere near as cumbersome as the daily shave. I would have stuck with that plan except for a very disheartening development—gray whiskers. Well, they weren’t really gray; they were white.

I didn’t like that at all. It added ten years to my looks and the process of coloring it was almost as bothersome as shaving. The beard had to go.

I said that shaving is dangerous and for me it is. Because I don’t enjoy doing it, I do it as quickly as I can get away with. Quickly means carelessly and carelessly means nicks and cuts.

Enter the wonderful invention known as the styptic pencil. It is great for closing wounds and stopping bleeding. When I nick myself when shaving, it seems I always get myself in a facial blood vessel that bleeds and bleeds. When I have a styptic pencil handy, it’s a quick job to get it to stop bleeding.

GGATEYeah, that’s a big “when”, because I never seem to have one when I need one. That’s a multi-faceted problem. One reason that I often don’t have one is that I shave around 4 out of 7 times at my gym. At my gym, I have two lockers—one that is my main locker and one that I use when I go to the gym with clients. In the summer, when I swim in the outdoor pool, I shave out there. At home, I try to keep a styptic pencil in my drawer in the bathroom.

The problem with the one at home, the more populated my house is, the more frequently my stuff goes missing. Of course, no one ever admits to taking my stuff, but I know it doesn’t walk away on its own, or do I?

You see, although I don’t like being superstitious, it sometimes seems that Murphy’s Law is real. Murphy’s Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will.

For me and shaving, Murphy’s Law would mean that if I can nick myself shaving when there isn’t a styptic pencil around, I will. It seems to hold true. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve gone searching all over the house while my face bled, never to find one. The ones I’m sure I’d seen in certain drawers and cupboards were gone.

So, I solved it. I have styptic pencils in the following locations:

  1. In one drawer next to my bed.
  2. In a plastic container in my room.
  3. My drawer in the bathroom.
  4. In the shaving kit in my main locker.
  5. In a pocket of my big gym bag.
  6. In a pocket in my little gym bag.
  7. In my locker I use when I work out with clients.

Ever since I adopted this plan, I haven’t nicked myself once. Those pencils are going to last forever!

So, now, I have a Rex’s Law. It is this: The likelihood of a problem occurring is inversely proportionate to the proximity of the solution.

This also works for me with keys. I was always getting locked out of vehicles, with my keys either in the ignition or on the seat. So, now, I carry a spare set of keys in my pocket. Since then, I haven’t locked myself out of my truck.

It seems mystical, superstitious, and points to an unseen world where some things trigger or prevent other things with no rational way to explain why.

It’s much like the person who believes that they can prevent rain by carrying their umbrella, and yet, a lot of people swear it works. I actually think it’s more that when they don’t have their umbrellas, it will likely rain. When it comes to things that affect more than one person, the whole theory behind Murphy’s Law and Rex’s Law falls apart.

I have to be careful applying Rex’s Law. When I was a kid, I was a big fan of scary movies. One of my favorites was Premature Burial starring Ray Milland and Hazel Court. It is the story of a man obsessed with being buried alive. To prevent this he has built himself a mausoleum with backup plans on top of backup plans, so that if they ever mistake him for being dead, he will be able to get out. I’ll leave you to watch the end for yourselves.




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