by Mark Sigrist
Last fall, I put a package with split-rim O-rings and valve stem grommets on a shelf so I would know where to find them when the expected tire change on the M35A3 would happen this spring. When spring finally arrived, I went to the exact shelf to get them — no package! A cursory search of the shop turned up nada.
“Okay,” I said to myself, “I must have not looked in the exact location.” So again, I went back to the shelf for a look —followed by several hours’ intensive searching. No joy.
Off to the computer I went to place a quick order with Erik’s Surplus. With Erik’s fast shipping and a few hours of tired muscle labor, that pesky slow leaker on the driver’s side rear-rear was fixed.
Then, a week later, while looking for some other critical part, there was the missing package of rings and grommets – in the exact location where Ihad originally placed them! “Dangit!” as my son at 4-years-old would say. So, the silver lining of the story isthat I now have more spares.
MURPHY DID IT
From the time we were kids, my brother Dave, who is a combat engineer, farmer, welder, and drain-service owner, has claimed that “Murphy” was the culprit for such mislaid items, for things going off track when you are under time stress, and for defaults at the most critical time.
He had a million examples. One of his favorites was while he was in Vietnam in 1968. Standing in the motor pool looking at a 5-ton tractor hooked to a trailer carrying a motor grader, his bunker mate, Bob M. said, “Oh, it’s just gotten brand new brake shoes and wheel cylinders — what could go wrong?” Less than 45 miles later, when coming off a mountain in the A Shau Valley, the brakes were gone — non-existant!
Murphy was laughing hysterically all the way down and into the river at the bottom. Fortunately, the injuries were not critical.Murphy did get a second lick in on that one, as well.Dave lost all the pictures as the film burned in a fire caused by hostile fire.
Dave would say, “If you shot woodchucks off the cab of your truck, you would eventually shoot the end off of your radio antenna (I did — his truck). And if you shoot through a wire fence, 1 out of 4 times you will cut the wire (both of us did, numerous times).” That’s Murphy at work.
More recently, Murphy got Brad Nelson in 2009, during the Lincoln Highway Convoy. While crossing the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the nuts came off a trailer hitch bolt, dropping the trailer nose in the dirt road. Of course, neither Brad nor the recovery guys had the proper length replacement. Instead, they did a field-expedient repair using a Snap-on breaker bar and duct tape. It held for2,000 more miles.
Murphy recently got my son, Gunnar, a wheeled vehicle mechanic in the US Marine Corps. Doing a shop repair on a MTVR (USMC 7-ton truck by Oshkosh), Gunnar pulled a section of armor plating off to get to the errant unit that needed inspection/replacement — a task that he had done numerous time before. This time, however, that armor plate jumped out of his hands and landed square on his foot, smashing his steel-toe boot and big toe. Murphy!
Murphy has probably been around prior to humans on earth and has had many names through history. Many of the First Nations peoples of North America knew Murphy as “Coyote the Trickster.”
Coyote the Trickster may have a cousin who currently is responsible for an aggravating occurrence: One in three, that’s about the frequency of that drill or socket ratchet that you are using, put down for a second, then pick it up to use again — and now is working in reverse, without anyone flipping the switch. Coyote...er, I mean, MURPHY!
I have to concur with brother Dave. Murphy is the gremlin responsible for so many expectations being rudely bruised and confidence to be so badly tweaked. My other brother, Don, once told me, “If it’s got wheels, it will give you trouble.”
Well, good preventive maintenance will head off most of the trouble (and following the TM, line-by-line, helps you not forget something). Regardless, but inexplicable ‘stuff’ still happens —and Murphy has a strong hand in it.
Murphy cannot take all the blame for all missing items, though. The case of missing rings and grommets was not the only time an item was placed in a specific location at our farm only to have it be missing when we needed it and then subsequently reappear when we didn’t.
Long, slow drives in one of our historic military vehicles leave lots of time to think, to dream, to develop plans, to speculate —and to develop theories. After much thought, I have developed a premise: Truly, there are places in the world — numerous places — where O-rings and grommets as well ashundreds —no, I’m sure, millions — of other items are placed in specific locations to reside in our memories for future reference. These items slip through a hole of some kind — be it a space/time continuum thing or a looking glass to another dimension. They reside there for some period of time, and then, at some random time, reemerge.
My anecdotal sample of friends has led me to the conclusion that the only methods to increase chances of those stored items coming back to us is either: Not need them anymore or to buy replacements (especially of you have to pay a much higher price).
So, don’t despair, you did put it there to remember. When Murphy is done with it, he will return it.
Keep ‘em rollin — but keep an eye open for old Murphy!