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Murphy's Law and Revenge

Jacob-Albert AAlbert Jacob aged 90 with his spectacles

I, an 89-year-old widower, was puffing along, like Thomas the Tank Engine, minding my own business, when Murphy, he of the immutable law of nature, struck. The right leg had separated itself from the rest of my spectacles. A visit to my optometrist confirmed that no repair was possible, the lenses could not be put into a new frame, and after machinery and flashing lights he would not make a new pair of specs. The peremptory advice: consult an eye doctor. No reason was given.

Fortunately, I knew what was going on. I had cataract in the right eye. What surprised me was that it seemed to be working OK, but my eye doc confirmed it was ready for operation and she referred me for surgery in three weeks. I was not worried. My left eye had been repaired 5 years ago but unlike the present, it had clouded over completely.

But as every senior knows, there is a barrage of blood tests to make sure that the patient won't die on the table. Murphy was rubbing his hands when he indicated that the record of my weight, which I made every day, might be relevant to one of the tests.

One might wonder that someone who measures his or her weight every day is a neurotic, or, if my age, an "oldrotic". That is not the case. Many years ago, Renee, my late missus, and I were in Office Depot and we saw a weighing machine going cheap. Renee wanted to get rid of our old machine and its weights and this was a cheap way to do so. As a good Scottish Jew, I wanted my money's worth and so, a propos of nothing, I weighed myself every morning and put the results on a spreadsheet. Thus, many years later I had a set of numbers which might have a practical use.

Murphy knew this and the machine stopped working. I should have known it wasn't the battery because it did not record "Lo". I needed a new machine.

Murphy made things even more difficult because on the day of the operation I wanted a warmer shower than usual. I had not cleaned the solar panels, so I put on the electric heater. All the lights went out. I needed a new tank and heater. This was an inconvenience and it made it even more difficult to get about because by the end of the day my right eye was covered and I had to go back and forward to the clinic.

Although I could drive, it was not a situation which invited multiple journeys, parking problems, and long walks looking for a replacement weighing machine. Fortunately, or so I thought, I could buy one in Medent which is almost at the door of the mall in which I buy my daily The Jerusalem Post. There is a disadvantage in buying equipment from a firm like Medent; these establishments deal in expensive, top of the range (?), items. My new weighing machine was no exception. Although the box had multiple European languages describing the glories of its contents, the predominant language and the name of the firm indicated that it was German.

This did not necessarily mean that I had invested in a device with super-efficient Teutonic keeshkes. Everyone knows that the relevant internals of such a product is probably the result of Chinese ingenuity and labour. The defining feature of this weighing machine, apart from the fact that it requires two batteries when my older one worked happily for years on one battery at a time, was the picture on which one stands. Had this picture been a photograph of Recep Tayip Erdogan, Bashir Assad, or Ayatollah Khameni, I would have derived great pleasure every morning "humiliating" these unappetising examples of humanity by standing on their faces. But the picture is a London street scene complete with telephone box. I wondered why the makers of the weighing machine wanted to humiliate the capital of the United Kingdom. Was it revenge? If so, for what? Brexit sprang to mind. Now that Germany is Europe's top dog, did its people think that Britain's desire to leave was a slight? Perhaps, but why pick London? After all, London wanted to stay in. Or, if one wants to be paranoid, was it revenge for events which took place more than three-quarters of a century ago?

And as usual, Murphy has the last laugh. The machine is supposed to display a double zero sign before measuring a weight. Only it won't. It prefers a giant one and a smaller zero. I would have liked to take it back to Medent, but I couldn't, the mall was closed thanks to

Corona. And no wonder Murphy was cackling. After all the lockdowns, the mall was opened tentatively and the great secret was revealed. The two batteries, virtually new, mark you, were flat.

Albert Jacob is an active member of ESRA Beer Sheva. 

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