I DON’T THINK A LOT ABOUT KARMA
I don’t think a lot about karma (the Hindu view of causality, i.e., good deeds lead to beneficial effects and bad deeds to harmful ones). Being a Christian, I operate on the Judeo-Christian take on Karma: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1-6) What’s the difference? It’s subtle. I think Solomon means that we should do good, and even if we don’t see an immediate return to us, in one way or another, it will make the world (and us) better.
But I recognize karma when I see it. And a good example stands out in my memories of the 15 years Gene and I spent in wonderful Tucson, Arizona.
We moved there to have an adventure. We’d been married a year. I had nowhere to go in my career, and was ready for a change (After all, it had been almost seven years. You know the saying…). I had developed a love of Tucson during my years with the Arizona Community Foundation as director of ArizonaGIVES and then with Ballet Arizona during Nutcracker season.
So, when a former employee of Gene’s implored him to meet her father and talk to him about running his software business in Tucson, he agreed. I remember that meeting well. We were outside at a picnic table. Her father had sunglasses on the whole time; that should have tipped us off.
We moved to Tucson, and Gene was excited for a new challenge. The business needed him. The owner had gotten tired and needed to retire. He promised Gene he would stay out of the way and let him work his magic. You see, Gene had turned several computer businesses around. It’s what he does: he fixes things. (He’s still working on me. And for those of you familiar with the Enneagram, yes, he’s a 1.)
For a solid year, Gene put his heart and soul into that business, building a remarkable team and creating a marketing plan that put the company on an upward trajectory. It wasn’t easy. The owner was a belligerent bully, constantly interfering. In spite of that, profits began to climb. And then, Bam! The owner met with Gene and told him he had sold the business, and the new owner wanted to run it. Gene was out.
Now my husband is no fool. He had made provisions in his contract for just such a possibility, and the owner now owed him quite a lot of money. Getting the owner to pay him was another matter. In fact, it was the ordeal from Hell.
Finally, a date was set, and the two men met at the bank. The owner had given the banker instructions to have the money there in one-dollar bills and wanted Gene to list each dollar by its serial number and sign for it. I am not making this up.
Gene stood up and walked out.
He called his lawyer in Phoenix, a long-time friend, and asked him for advice. He suggested Gene hire a “no bullshit lawyer” in Tucson, set a new meeting, and take the attorney along. Gene found the perfect lawyer: a smart, intimidating man who wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and had “Take no prisoners” practically written across his forehead. He looked to be about 7 feet tall.
They arrived at the bank. The owner took one look at Gene’s attorney and gave Gene a cashier’s check for the money he owed him. Done.
Gene spent the next year looking at businesses to buy. He found one: a computer business owned by a brilliant, but quirky guy who knew he lacked the business acumen and marketing skills he needed to grow the business. Gene bought it. The owner was willing to stay on for six months of consulting. It was perfect.
And the owner of the first company? Six months later he was dead of cancer.
Felt like karma to me.