Thought Leadership

Do bad things really happen in threes?

By Colin Walls

I am not a superstitious person. I do not think that doing certain things bring bad luck. I do not see specific phenomena as bad omens. I firmly believe that anything that purports to predict the future is not worthy of my attention. There are times when I think that the world is out to get me; when everything seems to be conspiring to mess up my plans and a stack of bad things happen at once. Today is such a day …

As I do not do superstition, the notion that bad things happen in threes does not really occur to me. I just think that, statistically, there will be times when several things happen at the same time. Today, it happens to be three [so far!].

It started last night. For no reason that we could figure out, Libby and I had great trouble getting to sleep and then a very disturbed night. I get too little sleep most of the time, but, normally, I get to sleep easily enough, but wake far to early and cannot get to sleep again. I got out of bed this morning feeling very drained and exhausted before my day had even begun. This was not good, as I had plenty to do today, as I am traveling tomorrow [of which more shortly]. I guess that I could take a nap this afternoon, but I hate daytime napping and need the time for other things …

As I mentioned, I am traveling tomorrow, so I decided to check in for my flights. Obviously, I did this online and just downloaded the boarding passes to my iPhone. Everything seemed fine until I studied the pass for the first flight. It said boarding was at 05:35 [AM!]. As the flight was not due to depart until 09:00, this seemed very odd. Then I observed that the flight number had changed! It turned out that the airline had cancelled my previous flight and rebooked me. They did not have the right email to advise me, so this was the first that I heard of the change. Previously, for the 09:00 flight, I needed to be at the airport for 07:00, which meant leaving the house at 06:00. That was fine. I now need to be out at 03:00! That will be tough.

Eventually, I sorted out my logistics – car parking, airport pickup etc. – and rearranged the return flights [they had been adjusted too]. I started wondering about the weather at my destination and opened my favorite weather app. And waited. And waited a bit longer. I checked a website and that would not load. A glance at my router showed that our broadband connection had gone down. I checked with the service provider’s app on my phone and they reported that some work was going on in our area and it should be back online soon. It seems that “soon” means “within 24 hours or so”! This is not an aid to my productivity.

I wish I was superstitious, as, with three down, I would then be quite relaxed that nothing else could go awry …


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at