Karma is defined as the force produced by a person’s actions that influences what happens to that person in the future. Put more simply, according to Karma, what happens to you happens because of something you did previously.

I have experienced Karma first-hand on several occasions lately.

It started with a simple home maintenance project. I have lived in my house for 11 years and never had my septic tank pumped, so I decided to call the local septic company to make an appointment.

“Is this an emergency?” asked the receptionist who answered the phone.

“No.”

“And you just want to have your septic tank pumped?”

“Yes.”

“You know it is going to cost several hundred dollars.”

“Of course.”

“Is this a prank call?”

The woman quoted me a price, and since I didn’t know where the tank cover was, she explained they would have a technician come over and locate it. “He charges $75 an hour, but he usually finds it in just a couple minutes,” she said.

I was unbelievably giddy after making this appointment. I told everyone I knew (and many people I didn’t know) what an amazing, proactive homeowner I was. I became so unbearably smug people began avoiding me.

Eventually the day came for the technician to locate the cap to the septic tank. He was in the yard so long poking the ground and using various instruments I thought he was mapping out an 18-hole golf course. Morning became afternoon, which became evening. I grew a beard and made two mortgage payments before he finally came to the door and said he found it.

When all was said and done, this proactive, arrogant homeowner paid enough money to buy a small vacation home just to pump out a septic tank that was not causing any problems. “That’s karma for you,” a friend said when I told him the story.

A few days later Karma returned.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I had spent several hours washing my car, inside and out. When I was finished, it was in showroom condition. I had to run to the store, and on my drive into town I saw a colorful bird flying to my left. It was beautiful, it was graceful, it was fast and WHUMP! it was dead. The clueless feather-head flew right into the door of my car.

I am ashamed to say that my initial reaction wasn’t one of sympathy for the creature who just lost its life. No, I uttered a few very bad words and then worried about whether or not the bird messed up the side of my clean car. This thought brought immediate guilt and remorse. Unfortunately, Karma had already taken note and was making appropriate retaliatory plans.

The next day, I went mountain biking with a friend. After the ride, I put the bikes in the rack on the roof of my still clean car, and we started driving home. No sooner did we make the first turn when we heard a loud noise coming from the rear of the car. Apparently, one of the bikes hadn’t been secured properly and came loose. I looked in the rear view mirror and watched the bike swing back and forth like a pendulum, repeatedly smashing into the side of my car. I pulled over and inspected the multiple dents and scratches on my beloved vehicle as a result of the incident. My buddy asked if everything was OK, and it was all I could do to mutter “Karma.”

My final encounter with Karma came just this week.

During a recent trip to South Carolina, I saw a few nasty lizards on a sidewalk and a good-sized snake slithering in the grass. That night the news reported a story about an alligator that had broken into a Florida resident’s house. I became a very cocky Vermonter, informing residents of the area that in the Green Mountain State we never had to deal with horrible creatures like snakes, lizards and alligators. I proceeded to take every opportunity to remind these southerners that I could never live in the jungle they call home.

Fast forward a few weeks. I am back in Northfield Falls, and I hear there have been numerous bear sightings in town.

Bears! Hundreds of pounds of teeth, claws and attitude. They have come into the village, been sighted on the campus of Norwich, and have even been in my neighborhood.

For 30 years I have lived in Vermont, and the extent of my encounters with wild things has been limited to the occasional sound of a mouse in the walls or the smell of a recently deceased skunk. And now I have to worry about stepping out my back door and being terrorized by bears!

Oh Karma, you are so cruel and heartless…

Mark Albury is a regular contributor. He lives in Northfield Falls.

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