My Karma's Out of Harmony

My Karma’s Out Of Harmony

by Donna Jones

My karma’s out of harmony. I’m a good person. I recycle. I vote in every election. I leave coupons I can’t use at the grocery store. I’m basically a “random acts of kindness” type of person. So why don’t things turn out in my favor? Why is it that even when I’m trying to do a good deed, it blows up in my face?

For some reason, I’m a magnet for lost dogs. Every lost dog in the Rancho San Diego area some how ends up at my doorstep, waiting to be reunited with its owner. So one summer evening, when a couple came to my front door, asking if I’d seen their dog, I said with confidence, “No, but if it’s around here, I’ll find it.”

Sure enough—the very next day, a dog fitting the description was nosing around in my front yard. So I got our spare dog leash, clipped it on the dog’s collar, and headed up the street. The dog didn’t seem to want to go with me, but I figured it was because it didn’t know me. But I insisted, and dragged it along, both of us panting in the hundred-degree heat. I found the address the couple had left, walked up to the door, and proudly rang the doorbell, anticipating the cries of joy from the happy family.

The man came to the door and said, “Can I help you?”

I said, “Here’s your dog!”

He said, “No, it’s not.”

I said, “Sure it is. Just like you described.”

He said, “No, it’s not. My dog’s in the backyard. ”

I could feel my face go beet red. And not just from the heat. I said, “Hmmm, I wonder whose dog it is?” Of course I didn’t think to check the dog’s license until that second. A couple of hours later, after a long sweaty hike, I found the dog’s real home. The owner acted miffed that I had taken his dog on such a long walk on a hot day.

No good deed goes unpunished. But still I carry on, trying to do the right thing.

I walk my dog (really my dog, not some homeless dog I picked up somewhere) every day. And like all good dog owners should, I always pick up his poop with a plastic bag and put it in the trash. It’s no big deal. Like changing a baby’s diaper, it’s something you know you have to do, so you do it. I take a plastic bag, put my hand inside like a glove, pick up the poop, and then turn the bag inside out, and voila—a neat solution to a messy problem.

I have no patience with people who litter. It annoys me to death to see trash strewn around, especially in my park. So the other day, after I did my usual poop scoop magic trick, when I spied a pile of fast food wrappers, I thought, “Well, I’m a nice person. I wouldn’t leave trash in the park. I’ll just clean up those wrappers with my poop scoop bag.” And I reached down with my poopy bag, scooped up the mess—feeling very self-righteous—and then a turd escaped out of the bag, and rolled across my hand, leaving a disgusting brown trail.

Am I being punished because I’m smug? I admit it makes me feel good to give the little “you go ahead” wave when I get on the freeway. It makes me happy to donate my gently used clothing to the Goodwill. I love the oohs and aahs when I bring a batch of cookies to my co-workers. But I don’t just do nice things because it makes me feel good. I’m good because it’s the right thing to do. But don’t cha think I deserve a little reward?

After the returning the dog to the wrong house happening, and the poop pop out episode, I was feeling a little wary. But what can you do? You can’t just stay home. That would be letting the terrorists win. So I continued my good deeds, smiled and waved to old people, did the “after you” gesture at elevators, shared my homegrown tomatoes with the neighbors and then went to Ralph’s for some milk and bread, and left the coupon on the Wheaties box that was too big for just me and my husband.

When I got back to the parking lot, I didn’t recognize my car right away. Something was wrong. I couldn’t quite place it at first. What it looked like to me was that it was missing a front tooth. Then it dawned on me—the front hubcap was missing. I had no idea how that happened. Somebody could have stolen it, or it could have fallen off and I didn’t hear it—I’ve been known to play my music pretty loud in the car—or I could have knocked it off attempting to parallel park. A dozen scenarios went through my head… Anyway, it was gone. Bummer. I slinked home, parked the car in the garage and moped.

The thing is, I’m overly fond of my car; it’s a red VW New Beetle. It’s so cute, if it had cheeks you’d want to pinch them. The missing hubcap made it look really sad. I could almost picture a tear roll out from one of the headlights.

I heaved a big sigh and wondered what I would tell my husband. John takes meticulous care of his truck. It’s more than seven years old, but you’d never know it. It looks like it came right off the showroom floor. So when John drove up, I cringed. A missing hubcap would never happen to him. “I lost a hubcap,” I said, “I don’t know how or where. I went to the store and when I came out, it was gone.” I wished I could say, “I saw some boys running off with it, but I couldn’t catch them.” But since I’m good person, I couldn’t lie. Karma already had it in for me. A lie would just make it worse.

John said, “ You won’t believe this. I just saw a VW hubcap propped up against a stop sign down the street.”

“What?” I said, thinking, “Could I be that lucky?”

“Yeah, down by the dip in the road, ” he said.

Well, I couldn’t jump into my car fast enough. John hopped in, too, and we zoomed down the street as if someone else was after that hubcap, too, and it was a race to see who got it first. We got to the stop sign, and pretty as you please, there was a VW hubcap leaning against the sign, just waiting for me. Just like a coupon on a box of Wheaties.

I snatched up the hubcap, and said to John, “Well, finally. Karma’s paying me back for all of the good things I do. ” I drove back home feeling so smug. So vindicated. A little self-righteous. I mentally went down my checklist of good deeds. “Yeah, finally, ” I said. I couldn’t wait to put it back on my car.

We got back home, pulled into the driveway and I jumped out of the car to fix the hubcap. I handed it to John, who’s the handyman in the family, and he bent over the wheel to pop the hubcap on. Then suddenly he stood straight up. He had a puzzled frown on his face. “This isn’t the same hubcap,” he said. “Not the same at all.”

“What?” This was news to me. “There are different kinds of hubcaps? ” I said.

“Sure,” John said. “There are hundreds of different kinds. It was a long shot that this one would match.”

“What?” I was totally deflated. All of my puffed up self-importance whooshed out like a balloon raspberrying around the room. I had to sit down.

The universe that had been in perfect balance suddenly tipped off its axis.

It’s just not fair. What about the time I returned the dog? What about the poop incident? And all of the coupons I’ve clipped? I’ve made plenty of deposits in my Karmic bank account. Am I making up for some past life where I was a heinous criminal?

In the television show, “My Name is Earl,” Earl Hickey is former petty thief who wins $100,000 in lottery money, only to get hit by a car seconds later. While he’s in the hospital he hears about Karma, and he figures that the accident was payback for all of the bad things he’s done in life. So he makes a list of his sins and goes around making it up to people and checking them off his list. His philosophy is “Do good things and good things will happen to you. Do bad things and it will come back and bite you in the ass.” And every week, he checks somebody off the list and the world is right again.

At least in Earl’s world. In my world, it’s not the right kind of the hubcap. I never come close to winning the lottery. The guy I voted for doesn’t win the election. The light’s always red when I’m in a hurry. The one pair of jeans that fit get a big stain on the butt. I try not to take it personally, but you’d think Karma would throw me a bone once in awhile. But I guess that’s my mission in life. To give Karma a big belly laugh. Life is just one big cosmic joke. And I’m lucky I have a sense of humor.

My Karma's Out of Harmony


Joined November 2008

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I’ve made plenty of deposits in my Karmic bank account. Am I making up for some past life where I was a heinous criminal?

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