Wednesday, February 10, 2010
My good deed & karmic consequences
Okay, first let me tell you about my good, altruistic deed and then I’ll tell you the reasons why you shouldn’t follow suit.
And usage of “suit” is apt.
That’s what I was there at the dry cleaners to pick up. It was a seasonal sort of summer suit, so I’d been leisurely about picking it up at the local dry cleaners. To clarify: the suit isn't leisure; I am.
Had I picked the suit up a month previous when it was ready, the instigating transaction may never have occurred. But it did.
Here’s what happened:
I walked into the local dry cleaner ready for friendly service. The ladies there are sweet as Delta tea and just as sunny.
But the friendly service wasn’t what caught my eye. What did was something I prefer to avoid during my daily routine.
It was the black and gray uniform of the Pennsylvania State Police. It was hanging there in prominence smack dab in front of the five rows of -- who knows? -- perhaps a thousand items of bagged and dry-cleaned cloths.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but my first instinct when seeing that vacant suit was, “Run!”
Can’t help it. It’s in-bred. I have friends who are state policemen and enjoy golfing with them. But the uniform itself usually means a day-ruining event.
That’s why I was surprised by the impulse I felt seizing me.
“How much is the bill for that officer’s uniform?”
The old lady looked perplexed. She turned and looked through bi-focals at the pink receipt. It was $14.73.
“Let me have that one, too,” I said. “I’d like to pay for it.”
Like the rest of America, I’m deep into tough times. Income’s near zero. If I donate right now, it’s going to go to the Salvation Army, not the guy who’s going to bust me with a $97 citation for going 42 in a 35 mph zone.
But here in western Pennsylvania there’d been a heartbreaking rash of officer shootings. Four were killed in past six months. Two of them never had a chance.
So I paid for the officer’s dry cleaning and the sweet dry cleaning lady was overwhelmed. “Well, how kind of you!” she gushed. “What’s your name and phone number? I want to pass this along. I’m sure the officer will want to thank you.”
I declined. “Just tell him thanks for all he does for us."
And I practically danced out of the shop. I felt great. I’d done an impulsive good deed for a worthy stranger and didn’t taint it by seeking credit.
So why am I tainting it now? As a warning because of what’s been happening to me ever since.
See, I walked out of that dry cleaning shop not only feeling good, but also, yes, convinced something good was now likely to happen to me.
We all like to believe in karma. We who consider ourselves good like to believe that our good deeds will eventually resonate and be rewarded. Sooner the better.
I felt so good that I thought I’d try generate some web campaign to get dry cleaning customers to anonymously pay for bills for uniformed police and armed forces. Certainly, among the hundreds of clothes being dry cleaned at any given moment, there are some uniforms worn by brave citizens who put their lives on the line for us.
It’s such a simple gesture and is a great way to say thanks.
Now, here’s what happened in the hour after my good, anonymous deed:
• Got an IRS bill for $437 in penalties for a tax dispute that was resolved in the tax bureau’s favor.
• My six-month old computer malfunctioned. I drove 90 minutes to Pittsburgh three times in the following seven days to get warranty service. Lost about two days of data and felt rash-inducing anxieties all week.
• Heard little sawing noises in the attic above the bed. Went up to investigate and found puddles of water on the plastic insulation. The snow-covered roof’s leaking and needs replacing. Our baffled bug and critter guy couldn’t discern what’s making the noises. The disconcerting sawing noises continue unabated and I lay there sleepless each night awaiting a nest of mice to break through the ceiling and fall on my face.
• The snows that have since topped a total of 52-inches began to fall and continue to do so. I’m beginning to feel like Jack Torrance in “The Shining.”
• Learned the kid needs braces.
So given how cockeyed karma’s reacted to my good deed, will I ever voluntarily pay for another officer’s dry cleaning?