Saturday, July 15, 2006

Screwed by not being screwed

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and I am a firm believer in the anecdotal evidence to prove it. It seems to fly in the face of karma, however. That’s what I was thinking the other morning as I walked to the train station; although I left home with sufficient time to stop by the garage and put some recyclables in the building’s receptacle, I encountered an older woman, replete with walker, also going there.

Of course I helped her, which involved me holding the dumpster lid open with one hand while grabbing handfuls of newspapers from the canvas bag in which she’d carried them. And she had quite a number of handfuls, so by the time we finished and I actually got on my way I figured I would just miss the train I otherwise would have easily made. However, I followed the thought about how helping the woman costing me catching the train with a thought about how karma might not operate on such a simple one-to-one basis; the benefit to be gained from a selfless act may come much later, or have already occurred, such that one would not readily identify the connection. I have, overall, a spectacular life, and if the worst thing that happens to me today is that my plan to get to work a little earlier gets thwarted then it will still prove to be a pretty good day.

So, utterly convinced as I approached the corner where I turn and can see the station that I would round it and see the train already pulling away from the platform, I proceeded contentedly down the sidewalk. Unhurriedly, I stepped around the corner and saw… no train. However, I still had a block to traverse to get there, and it was still possible for a train to appear from the other direction and force me to have to run that last block in already-sweltering temperatures to catch it (in which case I’d probably let it go, not being worth getting all sweaty).

I walked that block’s distance at my usual pace and still no train. I moved up the ramp to the platform and found a spot in the shade of a palm tree, and still no train. Then I started to worry the line was encountering unannounced delays; that would be just the sort of twist Fate would put on the situation. Just at that moment, however, the approaching train emerged into view, ultimately about three minutes behind schedule. Which had allowed me to comfortably get to the station, without having to rush, and make the train no problem.

That may or may not have had anything to do with the assistance I gave the woman. As I had convinced myself, it wasn’t necessarily that simple. It may have just seemed that way; that would be just up karma’s alley to try to make me think what I’d just thought was wrong.

It does delight in keeping me on my toes.

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