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Karma is a bunch of bologna

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POSTED: June 7, 2011 9:44 a.m.

OK, first I’ll apologize because it has been so long since I’ve written a blog. I have lots of special sections and projects going on at work these days — no spare time for fun stuff like blogging.

Anyway, this blog is going to be more of a gripe. Well, OK, an assault on karma. I’ve always kind of thought karma was hogwash. I mean, the idea that carrying out acts of kindness will ensure that kindness is somehow repaid to you just sounds way too farfetched for this cynical gal. (Yes, I’ll be the first to admit I’m cynical and pessimistic. Not because I’m a depressing person, but because I’ve learned that if you expect the worst, you won’t be disappointed when it happens.)

I haven’t had a particularly rough life, but I haven’t had an easy life either. I work very hard for everything I have and when I commit myself to something — whether that’s a project, a relationship, a career or a hobby — I give it everything I’ve got. I tackle everything I do with reckless abandon — and I expect the same drive and determination from others. After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

So, even though I don’t believe in karma, I do wholeheartedly believe in doing the right thing and helping others as often as possible. And, like I just said, I expect the same from others. I do not think of it as a type of “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” system. I just believe that if I — or anyone — does something nice for someone, the person who received the favor should just keep that in mind. And if it just so happens that the universe also keeps that good deed in mind and decides to bestow a kindness unto the do-gooder, well, I don’t suppose anyone would complain.

However, that never seems to happen to me, and that is why I do not believe in karma. Take this story for example:

On Sunday night I was walking my dog in the park when I found a wallet lying on a bench. I picked it up and checked for an identification card. Nothing. The wallet contained only a wad of cash and a credit card receipt. The credit card receipt had the cardholder’s name on it.

I took the wallet home and typed the name on the credit card receipt into www.whitepages.com. An address a few blocks away from my own popped up. I walked the wallet over to the address and handed it to its rightful owner, who was shocked and grateful to have it back. Since the wallet contained a chunk of cash but no ID, he’d given up hope that he’d see it again. So that was my good deed for the day.

The very next morning, as I was driving to work, my car broke down on Interstate 95. I made it halfway down an exit ramp before I completely lost power. I called my husband, who came and helped me push it into a nearby gas station parking lot — not a fun task while wearing a dress and heels. Hundreds of drivers must have passed us as we struggled to get the car to a safe location. Not a single person stopped and offered to help. Not one.

We called a tow truck and had the car taken to a repair shop, where we learned it would cost us more than $800 to replace a busted fuel pump. Oh, and I broke my shoe while pushing the car.

Thanks a lot, karma! That is why I do not believe in you. I return a lost wallet full of cash to its rightful owner and the universe hands me a broken-down car and an $800 repair bill. Oh yeah, that definitely sounds fair to me!

But, like I said, I don’t do good deeds because I believe in karma. I do them because I believe in the goodness of people. But lately I’ve been thinking I shouldn’t even bank on that — and not just because no one pulled over on the interstate to help me with a broken-down car.

I have a friend who once helped a laid-off buddy find another job. The guy who had been laid off had three children to support and his wife was not working. It has been several years since my friend used his business connections to help his jobless buddy find work, and the formerly jobless friend is actually with another company now – a very well-known, high-paying, lucrative company.

Wouldn’t you know it – my friend recently found himself needing a job. As it turned out, the well-known lucrative company had a job opening in my friend’s field! He turned to the buddy he had helped out years ago and asked him to put in a good word with his boss. Do you think the formerly jobless buddy returned the favor to my friend? Nope. Instead, the formerly jobless buddy told my friend that the hiring process basically was out of his hands and there wasn’t much he could do to help. Come on, dude, would it really put you out that much to go to bat for the guy who was instrumental in helping you find a job and feed your family a few years ago?! Give me a break.

Why do people take advantage of one another? Why do people ask for and expect favors when they’re never willing to return them? Am I just naïve? Do I give too much? Do I expect too much from others? I’d really like to know.

 

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