Roger Marolt: Karma is the handiest tool
I have a different take on karma — it’s a joker in the hand that life deals a jerk.
I make up an excuse to the kid selling ducks outside City Market. I can’t buy a local youth program fundraiser duck from every kid in town, so I figure it’s only fair that I don’t buy them from any of them. I don’t tell the kid that, of course. Instead I lie.
A lady who overhears me smirks knowingly and shakes her head. She says, “bad karma.”
The thing is, even though I tell myself I don’t feel guilty about my fib of convenience, the truth is I do. The right thing would be to go back and either tell the kid the truth that the annual Ducky Derby assault is completely exhausting or just buy a dang duck from him.
Instead, I buy my lunchtime banana from the singles basket instead of ripping a slightly better looking one from a full bunch, and then I feel better. I screwed the kids but saved a couple of pennies of fruit spoilage for a huge grocery store chain. The scales of justice might be askew but the yin-yang is in balance. With my karma reset, I leave the market at peace.
If only I alone was playing the karma card the world would be a better place. A guy told me about an incident he had on a local mountain bike trail last week.
He was going down a single-track trail and came upon several riders coming up. As good etiquette dictates and common sense demands, he stopped on the side to let the laboring climbers by. Meanwhile another rider coming down behind him has a different idea. Instead of pulling over, too, this downhiller brushes past the stopped downhiller and keeps his balance by putting a hand on him and then proceeds to do the same to the riders in the uphill pack.
OK, it was terrible form on the rogue downhiller’s part, but nobody was hurt. All that really happened was that it made everyone mad.
The guy telling me this story knew he should have let it all go and try to enjoy the rest of his ride. Unfortunately that’s not what happened. Instead, he decided to catch the rude downhiller and “teach him a lesson.”
Apparently the way you do this is to ride at breakneck speed and catch up to the other guy. Once on his tail, you repeatedly bump his back tire with your front tire, to let him know you mean no harm, but want to teach him a lesson, which is not only that what he did back there was totally uncool but, more to the point, that you are a much better rider than he is.
You finally knock him into a tail slide round a sharp corner and he crashes into the brush; no real harm done, only a few scratches, none requiring stitches. You see he’s OK, and then relax, feeling like you proved your point. The problem is that now you are going faster than you are comfortable with and have to drag a foot around the next corner and it catches in some soft dirt nearly causing you to crash.
That could have been really bad. Not least because the guy you just caused to crash might then catch up to you and give you the throttling you deserve. You know he probably wouldn’t do that, because who would? No, no, it would be much worse than that. Most likely he would slow down a little as he passed and give you a condescending little grin that would hurt more than a broken collar bone.
Luckily, our protagonist (?) didn’t crash. But, after the adrenaline subsided upon finishing his ride and the endorphin valve pinched itself shut, he started feeling badly about his behavior.
Fortunately, he woke up the next morning with a tinge of pain in his knee. It was from the near-miss crash on his bike ride the previous day. “It was karma,” he explained to me. And, as we all know, once you receive karma’s sentence, you have justly paid your dues. It is a break we all look forward to, especially when we are the ones who recognize it first. In the case of our bicyclist, all things were even at that point and he was then free to tell his story of revenge with anger and complete justification.
Karma is like never having to say you’re sorry. You do something bad and then eat an overripe banana to make up for it. The wrong has been righted. It’s something a jackass can get used to.
Roger Marolt’s coffee got cold while he wrote this. It’s what he deserved. Email at email@example.com.
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