Bad Things Come in Threes

“What happens twice, happens three times.” You’ve most likely heard this old saying. It falls in the category of superstition. I tried to look it up and found anecdotes about three celebrities who died the same week, three tornadoes happening close together, or any three other seemingly related things that happened in a short period of time.

The experts seem to think that we simply notice bad things more when they happen close together or one right after another. One mishap is simply a circumstance, two a coincidence, but three and it is a pattern. Either we do not notice a fourth occurrence or we start counting all over again.

Our mind seeks order by grouping things together. We have this, that, and the other; yesterday, today and tomorrow; before, during and after. This all seems very plausible when you read it, but why three? At my house, things do always seem to come in threes, especially broken mechanical things that need expensive fixes.

First, it was my kitchen range, barely old enough to be out of warranty. Do manufacturers plan it that way? My old range lasted 25 years before it died. This one is less than two. The oven temperature buttons no longer work — except for number 5. No problem if you want to cook something at 555 degrees. Unfortunately, there are not many things you can cook at a temperature that high. I tried it and incinerated a batch of chicken nuggets.

When looking for an authorized service center to fix the range, I found they only do warranty work. That is reassuring, isn’t it? There are so many things breaking down while under warranty that repairing them is a full time job. So, now I am looking for an appliance service that will reply to a voicemail with a call back and then actually show up to do the job. If you’ve tried it lately, you know it isn’t easy.

Secondly, there is the matter of the TV, the big screen TV that is too large to go to a repair shop. The picture and sound work fine, but the thing keeps turning itself off. Turn it back on and it plays a while and turns itself off again. Is it the satellite receiver, the remote control, or the timer on the TV? The timer is not set; using a different remote doesn’t help; and no other TV in the house is acting up, so it doesn’t seem like the receiver. A TV person is scheduled to come today.

“Bad thing do not come in threes. It’s only superstition,” I tell myself, but I feel paranoid, waiting for the clock to strike three. What else could go wrong?

Yesterday I found out. My car started making a noise. Oh, no! I tried to ignore it and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. Finally I called the car repair shop.

“My car is making a noise. I need to bring it in.”

“What kind of noise?”

“Clickity, clackity, clackity.”

“That doesn’t sound good to me.”

“Me either.”

“Bring it in tomorrow, but if the oil pressure is low, get it towed.”


Let’s see: I can’t eat. I can’t watch TV, and I can’t go anywhere. Sounds like a fun weekend coming up.

I don’t know that this proves anything about bad luck coming in threes. However, I do feel safer now. Three things have happened already so impending doom is over and gone — just like my bank account will probably be before this is over.

As far as experts who say bad luck does not actually happen three incidents at a time and we only think they do, let them come live at my house for a while.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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1 Response to Bad Things Come in Threes

  1. My house is like that.

    Liked by 1 person

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