According to Wikipedia, “the Rule of Three is a writing principle that suggests that events or characters introduced in threes are more humorous, satisfying, or effective in execution of the story and engaging the reader.”
Take humor. You never hear that a cow and a chicken walked into a bar. There’s nothing funny about that. It’s always a cow, a chicken, and a horse.
And then there’s the concept of satisfying. Are you satisfied with a meal of just meat and vegetables? Of course not – if you don’t get a starch, you’re obviously on a diet!
I would argue that things that come in threes can also be annoying. Take, for example, my trip out to Wisconsin and then back. Late in August, I was on my last day before leaving my home in RI to drive to WI. I hadn’t finished my birdhouse (you know about our Avian Abodes, don’t you?). I hadn’t started to pack. Right – hadn’t STARTED. Had two doctor’s appointments.
The only thing keeping me sane was that I knew I didn’t have to leave early the next day. Usually I drive two full days to get to Princeton, but this time I could take a leisurely three days because I was timing my trip to pick up one of our Board members at the Milwaukee airport on Friday. See? Three IS better!
Still, I was pretty stressed out when, at 1:33 pm, on my way home from one of the doctor’s appointments, a guy turned right in front of me at a traffic light (I had the green) and there was nothing I could do except hit him. It wasn’t bad – I didn’t hit the steering wheel and the airbag didn’t deploy. It was only $9,000 worth of damage. ONLY! Worse than that, my car was not drive-able so I had to rent a car to get out to Wisconsin. Annoying. And expensive!
That was #1. Number 2 happened this past Friday. With my Wisconsin work complete until more birds arrive that need tracking, I came home for a couple of weeks. My first flight, from Madison to Detroit, was uneventful (the way we want ALL flights!). The second flight, from Detroit to Providence, was much more ummmmm annoying!
We boarded on time (8:05pm) and I settled in with my audiobook open and eyes closed. After a while I realized the plane hadn’t moved. The pilot then announced that we had a problem with engine 1 and had to change planes. OK, that makes good sense – no complaints here! We all disembarked and walked to another gate where a plane with a good engine 1 awaited.
We boarded and I settled in with my audiobook open and eyes closed. After a while I realized the plane hadn’t moved. Sound familiar? The pilot then announced that we didn’t have any ice on board so we wouldn’t be able to have beverages with ice. He said he planned to fight with the ice control people for 10 more minutes and then we’d just have to leave without it. Everyone yelled “GO NOW!”, but we didn’t.
Anyway, I settled back in my seat, re-fitted my earbuds and closed my eyes. After a while I realized the plane hadn’t moved (the THIRD time!). The pilot then announced that we were waiting for Maintenance to arrive to fix the door – it wouldn’t close. A pretty loud groan filled the cabin as I closed my eyes and restarted my book.
OK, that was THREE annoyances just on Friday night’s trip, which was the second annoying trip this year between RI and WI. I’m certain that when I head back on October 4th something will go wrong to complete this trio. Well, not certain, but hopeful – I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder constantly wondering when #3 will hit!
P.S. These are truly just “annoyances” and they pale in comparison to the hardships that people in Texas, Puerto Rico, the other islands, Florida, and Mexico are facing. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers!