Karma Police - Understanding Karma And How It Relates To The Claw
The concept of "karma" isn't quite clicking for me this week. Just a few days ago, a cashier at a grocery store gave me over 60 dollars of change when I handed her a twenty-dollar bill. This, of course, is my favorite kind of math and the only way to truly fix the economy, but I decided to give the money back to the cashier in exchange for some good karma. Let's face it, in the heat of the moment at a grocery store, one's conscience always seems to kick in. That's why people look at tabloid magazines while in line but don't actually buy them, and why people buy pumpkins with the intention of cutting them but instead just draw faces on them. After all, there is no "con" in "conscience," except there actually is...
When I gave the money back to the cashier, she smiled and thanked me, and I moved on with the six dollars of change I was supposed to have. Now, some would say that I already received an even exchange -- I gave back 60 dollars and received a smile and a thank-you in return -- but I know that karma is a better system than that. The "thank you" wasn't the type of "Oh, you saved my job and my life" sort of thank-you that I was hoping for, and the smile did not reveal any teeth (although I am not positive that she had them). Surely I was in store for some money coming back to me: one good deed would lead to something good in return. So I did what any logical person would do: I proceeded to the front counter and bought five lottery tickets. I already planned what I would do with my winnings: buy one of those big cubes with the giant claw that grabs stuffed animals. This would have been a great usage of my money because it was what karma would have wanted for me.
By having my own claw, I could practice on my free time so that when I went to amusement parks and carnivals, people would gather around me and say, "Gee, that guy sure has a way with that claw. It's like he has one at home and practices with it on his free time." And I would smile back and say, "Please, like anyone would have his own claw at home. Who do you think I am?" Just thinking about this scenario is enough to make me watch "Law and Order" ( I would pretend that the first word was actually, well, never mind)...Believe it or not, I did not win the lottery that day. This did not make sense to me because I figured that the NJ lottery system should have been tuned in to my desires. If my personal desires cannot successfully rig a lottery system in NJ, then where in the U.S. am I supposed to be able to rig it? For two days I panicked, thinking that everything I believed about karma was wrong, but then two days later, a girl in front of me dropped ten dollars while walking down a hallway at school. This was karma's way of testing me again: I gave the girl her money but did not receive a thank you in return, which was fine because this lack of thank-you assured a lottery win. And here's the kicker: as a teacher, I had every right to keep that money for myself.
This is the reason that many people become teachers in the first place -- to take advantage of those moments when students drop something and then give a speech along the lines of this: "In order to teach you responsibility, I am not going to give you back what you dropped. Instead, I am going to put it in a drawer in my desk so that you will never see it again," and of course the "drawer" is another word for "pocket." The fact that I resisted the urge to enact upon this lawful procedure added to the my chances of winning the lottery that night. But something went wrong again: I did not win...I am looking forward to tomorrow when someone else drops money on the floor or gives me too much change at the register. Sure, I will give the money back like I did before, but this time I will not rely on karma to give me something in return. After all, I know an arcade where I can find one of those claws, and I have some quarters in my pocket that want some action...But I digress.
Greg Gagliardi is a journalism and English teacher in NJ who has been writing "Progressive Revelations" since 1998 (http://www.ProgressiveRevelations.com). Sign up for the new Facebook fan area http://www.facebook.com/pages/Progressive-Revelations/9144616588
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