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Archive for the ‘Karma’ Category

So Rite and yet so wrong

I had just turned the corner on my street this morning when I spotted a six-pack of soda sitting just past the end of someone’s driveway. It had obviously been deposited there inadvertently and the owner, whomever he or she was, had yet to discover it missing.

Before I continue, let me give you a little peek into my childhood. I’ve mentioned before that my parents are rather frugal. My dad saves money by being a bit stingy. He doesn’t swim in his coin like Scrooge McDuck, but he knows what he likes and he doesn’t like frivolous spending. As he’s gotten older, some of the things that were a constant in his life have fallen by the wayside. Like Christmas lights. He hasn’t put up Christmas lights in years because of the spike in his winter electric bill, which come to think of it, is probably not such a bad idea in these energy conscious times.

My mother, one the other hand, saves money by spending money. Just recently she bought a gallon of Ken’s Steak House Cesar dressing, not because she needed a gallon of Cesar dressing, but because she bought it for a song at some wholesale place and couldn’t pass up the deal. Only later did she realize the thing was more cumbersome than it was worth and tried to pawn it off off on us. Unlike my mother, I can say no to some freebies and also turned down the two jars of peanut butter she was going to send home with us because she had several and no one in their house eats much of the stuff.

That being said, I can recall several occasions during which I was in the car with my mother and she would order me out to retrieve a pop bottle or can that had been discarded on the side of the road. We don’t see much of that here in Michigan because we have a bottle deposit, but once in awhile we’d come across the random gem at a stop light or some residential side street and Mom would get excited. “Oh, Heather! There’s ten cents! Go get it!” When I was young, I’d oblige and unstrap my seatbelt to snag the can before the light turned green. As I got older, I’d just roll my eyes and say, “It’s just a dime, Mom. Get a grip.”

But there I was this morning, faced with an entire six pack of bottles completely filled with soda. Free pop and sixty cents of deposit money to boot. At first I drove past, figuring the soda probably belonged to the owner of the house behind where the six-pack was sitting. A ripped grocery bag could have deposited it there or maybe..maybe even an angry passenger had thrown it out a car window. If you don’t think someone could do that, I’ll have to some day tell the story of how Nathan defiantly threw one of his shoes out the window of a moving car because I was giving him the silent treatment.

All sorts of scenarios on how the soda wound up in the road were going through my head as I put the car in reverse and traveled back where the six-pack was chilling in the snow. As I got out of the car and approached, I could see it was Diet Rite soda. Diet Rite! How serendipitous. I love Diet Rite. It could have been regular Pepsi or Coke or, God forbid, root beer. But no. It was Diet Rite and I was the one rescuing it from possible annihilation at the hands of someone else’s snow tires by tossing it in the front seat of my car.

If I was a completely solid citizen, I could have just walked up to the house and placed the abandoned soda on the front porch. But I didn’t, and now I’m faced with a very Earl Hickey-like conundrum; was Karma rewarding me for good behavior or will Karma punish me for absconding with the sodas? They aren’t mine, and I did have options short of canvassing the neighborhood for their rightful owner. I would like to think Karma is somehow paying me back for all the sodas that exploded in our garage during the recent cold snap. We lost at least half a dozen and were left with a pile of slush and mangled aluminum.

So the sodas are staying in my front seat. For now.

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A fable about karma

Once upon a time, there was a young couple who lived in small apartment. They had noisy neighbors, a tiny bathroom and had to pay one dollar each time they wanted to wash or dry a load of laundry.

After living in the small apartment for six years with the noisy neighbors, tiny bathroom and coin laundry, the couple finally decided they needed something new. They very much wanted their own home but didn’t have enough money for the required down payment. One day the woman was searching through the newspaper and saw an advertisement for a duplex for rent not far from their apartment. She called the number in the ad and arranged to have a look at the place.

The duplex was grand compared to the apartment. It had a basement, a yard to mow and a bigger bathroom. There was even a washer and dryer hook-up in the basement so that they would no longer have to use the coin laundry. Best of all, the unit had central air conditioning. Oh joy!

The owner of the duplex had the couple sign a lease and asked for the first month’s rent and a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. The couple paid the landlord and arranged to move their possessions into the duplex. All was well with them for awhile.

A few months later, the couple had a problem with the furnace and called the landlord to have it fixed. “Just go ahead and have it fixed and deduct what you paid from next month’s rent,” the landlord said.

The couple was confused. Wasn’t it the landlord’s responsibility to arrange for and pay for repairs? They shrugged their shoulders and foolishly did what the landlord suggested. They figured they should get used to taking care of home repairs since they would eventually be responsible for them when they finally owned a home.

Over the next few years the couple saw very little of the landlord. He would stop by occasionally in his silver and black Corvette and complain about the water bill, the only utility the couple did not have to pay. Many requests for repairs were ignored or referred to the landlord’s troll of a father who didn’t appreciate having to travel the quarter mile from his house to the duplex to fix things. Eventually the couple decided it was easier to take care of minor repairs themselves instead of hassling with the horrible landlord and his equally horrible father.

One day, however, the toilet cracked and the couple knew this was one repair they didn’t want to fix themselves. They called the landlord, who said he would stop by later on and have a look at it. When the couple came home from work that day, they found a brand new toilet in their bathroom. They were impressed with how quickly the landlord had taken care of the repair.

Later that night, just before bed, the woman decided to wash a load of laundry. She brought the basket downstairs and was horrified to see a torrent of water raining down from above. It seems she had just flushed the brand new toilet and this unwelcome waterfall was the result. She tried to contact the landlord but was greeted with only a voicemail to leave a message. The only thing the couple could do was turn off the water and wait for the landlord to call back.

The next morning the landlord returned their call and explained that he had not completely installed the toilet. He had yet to seal it and failed to tell the couple, apparently thinking this was not crucial information for them to have. The couple was disgusted and from then on dubbed the idiot Evil Landlord.

After a particularly long winter in which the furnace problems returned and the pilot light extinguished at frequent intervals resulting in frigid indoor temperatures, the couple finally decided it was time to move into their own home. They looked at houses all spring and found one to their liking in June. They happily gave notice to Evil Landlord and made preparations to move. Evil Landlord was not pleased as the couple had given him less than 30 days notice. The couple did not feel obligated to give more notice since Evil Landlord had not been the most attentive owner.

The woman spent the few weeks before the move furiously cleaning the duplex. She cleaned the kitchen cabinets inside and out. She cleaned inside and under the refrigerator. She washed the windows, laundered the drapes and steam cleaned the carpets. She even mopped the concrete floor downstairs where their cats had frequently emptied the contents of their stomachs. The duplex had never looked so clean when they lived there.

A few weeks after the couple moved into their new house, they received an envelope from Evil Landlord in the mail. Inside was a check for their security deposit, made out for less than half the amount originally given to him. The couple was furious and immediately called Evil Landlord, who claimed he had to make “necessary repairs” and that the couple had not given him sufficient notice before they vacated the premises. While they momentarily considered litigation, the couple felt the lost money was worth never having to deal with Evil Landlord again.

The woman, however, was not able to forget things so easily. She entertained fantasies in which she returned to the empty duplex and turned on the outside faucet to both increase Evil Landlord’s water bill and hopefully flood the basement. Knowing she would probably get caught, the woman abandoned her plan of sabotage, her only comfort being the belief that Evil Landlord would eventually reap what he sowed. She could only hope to be there to witness it.

Over the next couple of years, the couple enjoyed their new home. They eventually had a baby and forgot all about Evil Landlord and his evil ways until one day the woman came home to find her husband with a huge grin on his face.

“My dear,” he said, “you’ll never guess what I saw today. Evil Landlord on Chicago Drive, his ‘Vette in the ditch smashed to bits.”

The woman gasped. “Surely you jest! You know I’ve had a trying day at work. This isn’t just an attempt to cheer me? Are you sure it was him?”

“He was standing next to his car and talking on a cellular telephone,” her husband replied.

“Oh please, can we go look? Let’s pack the child in the car and go!” the woman exclaimed.

Her husband laughed. “My dear, they’ve probably towed the car away by now.”

The woman sighed, disappointed but her mood much elevated. She knew it to be true. Even though she didn’t witness it herself, she was able to hear a firsthand account of it:

Karma. It’s a bitch.

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