I don’t like Murphy’s Law and the whole bad attitude that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. However, my first purchase of the holiday season could very well be proof that Murphy knew what he was talking about, at least some of the time.

Like most fiascoes in my daily life, this one started out simple. I responded to an advertisement in a magazine.

The ad encouraged me to renew my subscription to The Week magazine and give someone a subscription for a low, low price. If you are unfamiliar with The Week, it claims to contain “All you need to know about everything that matters.”

My older sister, Grace, had given me a gift subscription last Christmas and much to my surprise, it turned out to be a magazine Ron and I both enjoy reading. (People, Star and Cosmopolitan are the only others we share.)

I decided to renew our subscription and send a gift subscription to my father-in- law. All I had to do was fill in his address, and the magazine would bill us later. What a breeze! Or so I thought.

The following week, I received two identical copies of The Week. One was addressed to me, and the other had my sister’s name on it, but our address. Also on the label was a handwritten question mark.

I did what I usually do when strange things happen in my little world; I waited to see if the problem would fix itself. Sometimes the strategy actually works, but not this time.

Two copies of The Week arrived in our mailbox the next week. A day later, the bill came in for the renewal and gift subscription. Murphy’s Law was evidently having a field day with my gift-giving efforts, as the gift subscription was screwed up as well.

First, Ron’s parents’ address was wrong, and second, my big sis was sending the gift subscription to them. Talk about confusing!

“Boys, I’m going to be on the phone for a while, so don’t interrupt me,” I said, heading upstairs with the invoice, two magazines and a pen in hand.

This was not a problem that could be handled over the Internet.

I was ecstatic when, after a short wait, a real person’s voice came on the line. As I began to explain what had happened, the very patient customer service rep asked me to slow down and help him break the confusion down into smaller parts.

“I’m going to need a couple of pieces of scratch paper to get this one straight,” he said.

Forty-five minutes later, after crashing his computer, we managed to get the entire thing straightened out.

I hold no grudge against whatever person in the subscription department managed to jumble up our information. They are only human, after all.

The helpful customer service rep more than made up for any inconvenience, plus he had a sense of humor, even as his computer went berserk.

Murphy’s Law may occasionally appear in the life of Pam, but it will never be allowed to stay. When the boys, Glory and myself stumble into trouble, we prefer to think of what’s happening as our latest adventure.

And that’s the attitude I’m going to take in the weeks ahead as I spend time at the many local malls choosing gifts for my family and friends. What a wonderful time of the year indeed!

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at or find the Zichs online at

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