As a boy, I read every Horatio Hornblower book that has ever been published. So great was my addiction that I even read a reference book written about my hero: “The Life & Times of Horatio Hornblower”, by C. Northcote Parkinson, who, I quickly learned, way back then, was the father of the famous Parkinson’s Law.
In my journey through life, I have never forgotten Hornblower, who overcame rejection, enduring tragedy, and persecution in a series of stories that surely must have provided some understanding about the life that lay in my murky future.
Parkinson’s law, one of the most profound, if little understood, principles of business, has, as well, been a frequent visitor in the cabin of my little ship of life.
The law may be succinctly stated thusly: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Parkinson’s Law, at least as manifested in my existence, is often accompanied by that other famous natural law, Murphy’s Law, whose principle effect is summed up this way: “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way.”
These two great forces have met, formed a vortex of immense power, and have begun sucking the faint essence of my soul-being from my physical existence. Let me explain……
It is spring break, so I have one week to catch up on domestic duties, school work, and to prepare for a large social function for an organization that takes this event very seriously.
On Sunday, the electrical components of our castle began to flicker. Televisions and computers were most severely affected. A call to the local utility, an astonishingly quick response, and the matter was taken care of, or so I thought. Within minutes of their departure, the terrible on-off cycle began again. We had no choice but to power down our two main connections to the world, television and internet.
On Monday, while feverishly completing school work on my computer, the utility company returned, to install a recording device to monitor the flow of electricity into and out of the crib. Flickering continued unabated. On Tuesday, work on the social function was partially completed, amidst truly alarming bangs and bumps as volts and amperage surged through our delicate devices. Wednesday dawned to the sound of more noises, with electrical devices that acted as if they had just left the set of Poltergeist. A call was placed to the electrician, who, agreeably, arrived within 30 minutes.
Yessir, he noted, you do have some problems. The only way to fix them is to track down the ‘gremlins’ in your wires. And so commenced the search, with every device that drinks electricity turned on, switches switched, and even additional consumers like very high powered lights brought in from the truck and turned on; all apparently designed to cause my home’s electrical system to fail. And fail it did not. But one thing did die, the one thing that I absolutely had to have this week in order to fulfill all of my responsibilities; the one thing that has become irreplacable (we all know that humans/employess are not irreplacable, but that’s another story)……yes, my desktop pc gave up the ghost.
Order has been restored to the grid. An even supply of juice is now available. But the one thing that really, really needs the juice is not here. It’s at the computer emergency room, where my new best friend is attempting to revive the exhausted, but vital component of my life. Like a family member in the waiting room, I await the visit from the doctor. What news will he bring?
If I require another computer, can he give me back the data that lives only on the old hard drive…..the hard drive that holds all of my software, data, and connections for school, work, and social obligation? Can I get a working device before the week is out, so as to finish my tasks before this eye of the hurricane (spring break) passes overhead and the furies recommence?
I await, helpless as a new born babe, the decision that will be rendered by those great natural jurists, Parkinson and Murphy.