In the interest of complete clarity – I must admit that this post is being delayed until after Christmas so as not to spoil the surprise gift mentioned below. This was written on the morning of December 16, 2012 and is an accurate depiction of actual events.
Dictionary.com defines karma like this:
1. Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either inthis life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman. Compare bhakti ( def 1 ) , jnana.
2. Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation.
3. fate; destiny. Synonyms: predestination, predetermination, lot, kismet.
4. the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something: Let's get out of here. This place has bad karma.
1820–30; < Sanskrit: nominative, accusative singular of karman act, deed
I am not a firm believer in this (or any other, truth be told) mystic power of the universe. That is to say, that there is a reason for everything and some times, that reason is blind luck of the draw. But this morning's events still make me pause for thought, coming as they do, so close to buying my Christmas gifts for my siblings.
Each year, I send-out a family calendar to my family, which is really the main gift that I give them. This year, however, I am going to see most of them on Christmas at my folk's house, so I thought that something under the tree to open would be nice. The problem is this: What to give them! We have what we need, and there is nothing that I could put under our tree that would substantively improve what is, essentially a good life that my family lives.
That is why yesterday, I went shopping. I looked for a store in a depressed part of town, and selected one in proximity to the bus line and public housing on the theory that this would be most likely to be where someone who may need financial help would buy their Christmas gifts.
I then walked to the layaway desk and asked if they had any accounts that were not yet paid off that appeared to have children's Christmas gifts in them. I told the clerk that I wanted to be a Secret Santa, told her the budget that I had and asked if she had three-or-four accounts on the books that had toys as their main items that I could pay off for that amount. She dutifully checked the record and the layaway shelves and handed me the tally for four accounts. It came to a little more than I had budgeted but not enough to quibble over and I tendered the cash to pay off the four accounts. She asked how she should mark the payment and I told her to sign it "Santa." (I could not believe she wanted my name – what's the point of leaving a name? That is why it is called "Secret Santa!")
My siblings got the gift of giving Christmas to a child who may not have otherwise gotten one. Or at least the knowledge that some parent didn't have to worry about how to pay for a gift for their child and pay the bills. I had heard of people doing this, but it really does make you feel good to be a Secret Santa, to do something nice for someone without expectation of reward or recompense.
So imagine my shock at what happened this morning when I went out to breakfast before running my errands. It is Sunday (as I write this) and my usual routine is to go out to breakfast at one of a few local places that I like, then do some grocery shopping, and run some errands to get everything out of the way and be home in time for the political talk shows.
Granted it was early and the place was absolutely deserted. But still…
I had a lovely breakfast, dropped a bill on the table for a tip, and went to the register to pay. The guy at the counter scanned my card. He then scanned it again. He then scanned it a third time and looked-up at me, embarrassed. "It doesn't seem to be working – the scanner must want me to give you your breakfast for free."
The owner came over and tried a couple times. He then got a sheepish look on his face, handed my card back to me and apologized. "It is totally my fault. I have not logged onto the card machine yet. It will take a few minutes and I don't want to keep you waiting. Your breakfast is on us."
"I do have cash; I just normally pay by credit. Here… " I said, fishing bills out of my wallet.
The owner shook his head and said "No need. It is my fault for not having completed the opening of the register properly. Merry Christmas!"
Like I said, I'm not sure I believe in karma, but…
Wherever you are today I hope you will take the opportunity to make someone's day a little bit brighter!