The Concept of Karma
I myself have been a generous person all my life. Sometimes I gave what I had in bad judgement, knowing that I would never be repaid, but I could not help it. I have always given the shirt off of my back to people that already had a coat.
When I was 22 years old, I was working for a sister company of DirecTV. My wife and I had just moved into our new townhouse and barely had enough money to make it from one week to the next. With all of our bills stacked up, we had to make sure we had a little extra left over for the next month because our checks were paid bi-weekly.
Just a month after we had settled into our town house, we went shopping late one night in November. It was very cold out, as I can remember. We went to the nearby Wal-Mart and loaded up on groceries. We probably had more than we needed, but I had just been paid and was determined to get what I wanted. When we got outside and started loading our groceries into our trunk we were approached by a very scraggly looking black man. The man quickly started to explain his story of how he had just joined a magazine sales company and had been paid to travel around promoting their magazines. He had a booklet of all of the magazines that the company offered as well as his photo ID. He explained that he thought he had made a huge mistake and felt like he was in a different world because he had no idea how to promote these magazines in an area that he was not familiar with. The particular day was Sunday. He went on explaining that he had not eaten all day and had to sleep in Wal-Mart because his company could not get him a bus pass until Monday, since the company was obviously closed on the weekend.
As I listened to this guy's story, I quickly began to question it's validity. He then said I understand if you can't help me out, but I have already asked several people and they have all turned me down. "I'm not asking for money. If you just know of somewhere I can stay the night, because I have been on my feet over 18 hours trying to find shelter," he said. At this point, I looked at my wife, who was shaking her head as to say no. This is one of the few times I ever did anything without her approval, because I felt it to be the right thing to do. Having seen all of his credentials and listened to his story, I told him to hop in the car. This guy could have been a serial killer and we would have never known. I can remember looking at my wife in the rear view mirror and seeing the worried look on her face. I explained to the guy that I knew of a hotel that I could put him up in that would give him a place to stay for the night. I could already tell he was grateful.
We must have went to five hotels before we found one that had an all night service desk. Upon talking to the hotel clerk, it seemed as if we were on the way to getting this guy into a room until I heard this guy say, "I don't know about this hotel, it seems so far away from everything else." When I first heard this, it angered me because I was putting up my hard earned money for someone I didn't know. We stepped away from the counter and I explained to the guy that I was not going to another hotel. I told him that he could stay here or we could go back to the Wal-Mart where we met. Finally he looked at me and apologized for suggesting we find another place. I paid the hotel clerk and gave the wanderer $10 so that he could have a meal or two before his bus picked him up the next day. After seeing him to his room, I shook the man's hand and bid him goodbye and good luck.
As I entered back into the car, I was quickly fussed at by my wife. She had been terrified the whole time. I explained to her that she need not worry. I would never let anything happen to her. If something had went wrong I would have sacrificed myself for her safety. The arguing ceased and we arrived back home. I felt that I had done a good deed, but could not help but to think that I may have just wasted $50 of my money that I worked for. After all, it was the last $50 we had until my wife got paid in 5 days. After awaking the next day, I went to the same Wal-Mart out of curiousity, to make sure this guy wasn't doing the same thing with other people, but he was nowhere to be found. For the next week I would drive by the same Wal-Mart checking to see if I had made a good investment and it seemed that my donations were of good nature. I finally was able to accept that I had not been swindled and forgot about the whole ordeal.
December quickly rolled around and we still had hardly any money. We were able to have our budget in place and not be late for any bills, but still struggled to save extra for ourselves. I was still working for the same DirecTV company at the time. I had only been there for 3 months at the time. The company always had special contests and drawings for different seasons. During the Super Bowl they would give away TV's Blu Ray players and gift cards, but this was Christmas time and there were 10 gift cards they were giving out. Keep in mind that there were over 500 employees in the running for these gift cards and I was the youngest tenured employee eligible. There were 5 $25 gift cards, 3 $50 gift cards, 1 $100 gift card and the grand prize, 1 $500 gift card. They weren't really gift cards. They were more like wish lists. You could name off your list and they would buy it and distribute it to you. This was because of tax purposes of course.
It was the day of the drawing for the gift cards and I could remember checking my e-mail to see if I had won anything. My day started at 12 PM. The first 5 were called within a 2 hour period. The $50 gift cards were now being drawn. I watched as the $50 cards were quickly going by with no mention of my name. By my lunch time only 2 gift cards were still available, the $100 and $500 cards. Upon returning from my lunch, the man sitting next to me said, "Well doesn't look like we are going to win anything, there's only one card left and that's the $500 gift card." I responded by saying that I had never really expected to win anything. I had never won anything in my life except for sports games and those were because of my athletic skill. I am just unlucky. I took my incoming calls as usual after returning from my lunch break and noticed that there had been no winner for the $500 gift card yet, but I wasn't concerned because I knew it would not be me. It was time for my last break, so I logged out of my headset and headed towards the break room. I can remember watching the ball game on TV in the break room, not even thinking about the drawing. 15 minutes passed by quickly as always, so I made my way back to my desk. I was greeted by my neighbor, David, saying "Hey what's your last name?" "Turner" I said. "Why?" "You just won $500", said David. "Yeah real funny man", I replied. I logged in, disregarding his comical comments, and began to take my calls as usual. All of a sudden, people were poking me and saying, what are you going to do with the $500. I thought to myself, that this joke had gotten way out of hand. Giving in, I went to my inbox folder and saw the beautiful words "Congratulations". The only thing that I was thinking was that my wife and I were going to be able to actually have a nice Christmas. We could afford to buy our parents and siblings presents and not worry about our bills being paid. I wrote a letter to the HR Manager, expressing my gratitude for the gift card and included the story of how I had helped a stranger just one month earlier and thought that this somehow had something to do with it. For the first time in my life I won something. If karma is real, I was rewarded 10 times my original investment.
To this day I never question helping a stranger in need. I was never looking for my favor to be returned to me, but feel that for some reason it was. I've never been a strong believer in karma, but I do know that I have not won anything since or before that time. Being that it happened within a month's time of each other, I could not link it to anything else.
If you are wondering what we did with the money, we were about to buy a dinner table and chair set. We bought curtains for our windows, placemats for our table, kitchen decorations and presents for the rest of our families. Because I felt that this was a gift that shouldn't be ignored, we also bought a gift for one of the needy people whose name we drew off of the giving tree.
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