Why I Prefer Instant Porridge To Instant Karma

The other day on Twitter one of the people I follow said this.
Steve Death
Its_Death Steve Death
I notice that the humans who say “money isn’t important” are the ones who have an awful lot of it.


I know a few people like that. They languish, nibbling on an organic, gluten free, low fat cookie while sipping freshly pressed cumquat juice (incidentally, the press is made by the same guys who make Lamborghinis…..) while pontificating about the world. Can you pontificate and languish at the same time? Hmmmm. Maybe not.

They have opinions about everything.

Climate change? It’s been going on for millenia. Homeless people ? They should just shut up and find a job. Endangered animals? There’s too many of them anyway. Deforestation? If we cut down more trees we can build more houses. What goes around comes around? Never heard of it. The unequal distribution of wealth in the world? Doesn’t exist. Money isn’t important, dahling. Don’t you know anything?

Money isn’t important, they say, clutching their Birkin bag as if it was the holy grail.

There used to be a lot of people I avidly disliked. I used to let them get to me more than was healthy for my mindset. I prayed and prayed that karma would get them and that the universe would slap them in the face for their negative behaviour.But sometimes karma is a long time coming. I learned that waiting for it to happen. I also learned that it is not up to me who gets slapped in the face by karma. No matter how much I want it or wish it. That is up to the gods alone.

There’s another thing about karma. It can seem instant. You do something bad and BANG – instant payback. I’m not sure it really exists in its instant form, rather I think what happens is that you have an almost nine lives scenario when it comes to karma. You do something bad, you’re given another chance. You do another bad thing, another chance. But then you use up your quota and BAM. The karma comes along. And it seems instant.

I saw a woman yesterday whose son used to go to primary school with my son. She was a bitch to me for seven years. Truth be told, she was a bitch to most people. Her husband was a banker and earned gazillions of dollars a year and they lived in a big, fancy house with 5 bedrooms and a double garage and a pool and the all important northerly aspect. 

Once, we were doing a fundraising thing for the school and I had to go to her house. I think she mistook the stunned look on my face as I stood in the hallway (she called it a foyer, pronounced foy-ay,) for being overwhelmed and overimpressed when in fact I was trying not to gag over the ostentatious interior design. There was gold leaf coated and french washed furniture everywhere. A white room. A red room. A super duper yellow room. I was actually trying not to laugh because as soon as I walked in I thought of something I heard Joan Rivers say once: “All that money and she still looks cheap.”

‘Bet you thought you’d never be in a house like this,’ she said, which of course, was meant to make me feel inferior but instead made me want to laugh even more. ‘It’s not that important to me but I don’t mind it.’

Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells, I thought.

I was in the newsagent’s yesterday and that woman was there. Trying to buy a protractor for her kid’s maths class. The protractor cost $1.40.

The woman wanted to put the cost of the protractor on her credit card. Now you may not know this but the banks hit the retailers with a number of fees whenever a credit card is used. It can be as much as 3% of the purchase price. That is why many shops have signs like : No credit cards for purchases under $15. It is just not cost effective for a shopkeeper to accept a credit card for less because the fees he is hit with actually mean he makes no profit on the item and sometimes doesn’t even recover his costs.

So he refused to let her use the card. And she had a conniption. A good, old-fashioned pass-the-smelling-salts-I-need-a-sip-of-brandy-to-calm-my-nerves conniption. Over $1.40.

I was going to get involved and tell her to get off her motherfreaking high horse and calm down when I saw the signs. She was still well-dressed but her dark roots were showing in her usually perfectly coiffed hair. Her nailpolish was chipped and she had no make up on. I had heard her husband had lost his job a few months back but I wasn’t sure if the gossip was true.

One thing that was true, however, was that she she didn’t have one dollar and forty cents to pay for the protractor.

I wanted to shout: Hell yeah. I wanted to jump up and down and say: That’s karma in action, you bitch. Instant karma right there. You and your husband are being paid back. In your face. In YOUR face. Let’s see how unimportant money is to you now.

So there was the karma, instant or otherwise, looking me square in the face and may all the spawn of the sweet goddess of revenge strike me down but I felt bad for her. I felt empathy for her state. After all the nasty things she’d done to me and I’d seen her do to others.

I was angry with myself because when someone I feel deserves it gets an almighty kick in the butt I want to sit back and enjoy it. Possibly with a cigarette and a cocktail. But I couldn’t. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been down there scrambing for every single cent. And I know how bad it feels and even though it made me mad to do so (because part of me wanted her to suffer) I felt empathy for her.

So I paid for the protractor.

And she hugged me. It was one of those weird please-don’t-touch-me-too-closely kind of hugs where you don’t really trust one another; kind of like the way you might hug Cruella De Ville when you know she still has one of the dalmatian puppies in her coat pocket.

I would never have expected this from you after everything…..her voice faded off. She couldn’t finish the sentence but it was enough for me.

I knew what she meant.

There are lots of instant things in life I like.

coffee

pudding

porridge

Mmmmm. I love me some instant porridge.

But instant karma. I don’t think I love it as much as I thought I would.

Yet if the instant karma makes someone who wasn’t able to think it before realise that money is important if it is earned with integrity and appreciated and used respectfully, then that is enough for me. More than enough.

Because I prefer instant porridge to instant karma anyway.

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20 thoughts on “Why I Prefer Instant Porridge To Instant Karma

  1. Instant porridge I don’t like. Much prefer Uncle Toby’s (really) but I did like your Instant Karma story. I know this karma wasn’t instant, but before you said it, I was yelling to you (you must have heard me) ‘for Christ sake, Selma, pay for it! That would be the best revenge!’ and you did. Phew! Sometimes being your fried is so difficult!

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  2. Selma, you have a heart of gold – this is funny and sad and all things Selmerish – gotta love the word conniption by the way (one of my favourites in fact) and now I must have some instant porridge (yummy) and an instant coffee – haha.

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  3. Yes, conniption: sounds cat-nippy somehow 🙂

    Selma, one of the things I’m learning this year is it really is not important how much money you have; it’s the wealth you’re carrying around inside your head that counts. This woman has lost the “numbers on the screen” that is all her money was anyway and she is lost because she had no inner wealth to fall back on. You, my dear, have made it through on sheer inner strength and that’s something to be sincerely proud of. There will always be something you can do using your head that will pull you through, because you have mental wealth.

    I need to email you about something. Will do that soon when things are slightly less hectic in blogland.

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  4. Oh what a heart-warming blog, Selma! I love that you paid for the protractor. I don’t know how you felt when doing that, but I think I would have felt sorry and embarrassed for her… Thank you so much for this.

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  5. Thank you for buying the protractor for her son. Thank you for recognizing the signs of hard times. Thank you for tipping your hat to Karma and for easing hers a little bit. I’m sure she and Karma are on first name basis right now. In fact, I’d wager Karma has settled in and is putting its feet up on the gold leaf furniture and dribbling tea and biscuit crumbs on the velvet divan.

    And especially thanks for the line “pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells.” And conniption, (which is almost as good as kerfuffle). 🙂

    I do hope her son has been able to learn a lesson here, before it’s too late: Money is important in this world, but so is kindness, courage, and forgiveness.

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  6. See Selma, that’s what I love about you. I would have felt and done the SAME THING for that woman. Maybe she was getting a well-deserved taste of karma, but I would have felt terrible for her as well.

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  7. Above all, what I like about this is your honesty and forthrightness about your feelings about this person. “That’s karma in action, you bitch!” No sugarcoating…and then, you were changed in the end, and so was she. Human compassion prevails!

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  8. Hi STAFFORD:
    It is Uncle Toby’s. And it is yummeeeee…. Very good for the large intestine too, not meaning to get too gross or anything….

    Hahaha. I know I can be difficult. Sometimes it takes me a while to catch on. But I had to help, you know? Glad I got there in the end 😆

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    There sure are a lot of emotions contained in this anecdote. I didn’t really want to help her but in the end I had to. I could see how humiliated she was. If it makes her change an attitude a little then I will be really glad. I love the word conniption. I’d like to bring back on the old words including one of my faves – nincompoop. Love that word!

    Hi DAOINE:
    You’re going to make me cry saying that. It has been a tough year and to have that inner strength has really sustained me. What it has made me realise is what do people do who don’t have that inner strength when hard times come along? It must be devastating for them.

    Looking forward to your email 😀

    Hi ADEEYOYO:
    I had to pay for it. I felt sorry for her but also hopeful. The nicest, kindest people I know are those who haven’t had things handed to them on a plate. They know what it’s like to be down on the bottom so they appreciate the good times when they come along. And they help others. I am hoping she might change her ways as a result of what she is going through.

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  9. Hi KAREN:
    That Jingle Bells line comes from my old neighbour, Flo. I lived next door to her when I lived at home in the southern suburbs of Sydney (in the bush, actually.) She had hundreds of gems like that. I really should write them all down because I’ll probably forget them. Some of them were laugh out loud funny. I’ll try and compile them as a side project. Flo passed away about 20 years ago but she was one of the most hilarious people I have ever met. She always wore her apron – even to the shops – and she made the best scones I have ever tasted. What a character.

    Hi MELEAH:
    I did feel bad. I don’t like to see anyone suffering even if they have been mean to me in the past. Hey, maybe I’m growing up at last 😉

    HI JENNIFER:
    You are such a sweetie. It makes me feel so good to know you thought that ♥

    Hi tIMOTEO:
    You are so right. And I love that you made that point – compassion can change us. I think I am fairly compassionate most of the time but I do hold a bit of a grudge with some people. I need to work on that a bit. I think I might have started with the protractor!!

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  10. Hi Selma,
    Good on you for helping this person when she really needed it, most wouldn’t have even if they hadn’t known her before hand. 10 out of 10 for you Selma. 🙂

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  11. Your act of kindness wasn’t just compassion, it was an act of grace. And good on you for spreading some of it around our world!

    Sagacious Woman

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  12. Hi MAGS:
    Awww. That is so kind of you to say so. I will admit it was a hard thing to do but in the end I couldn’t see her humiliated like that. I just had to help.

    Hi BARBARA:
    You are far too kind to say that. I just try to do the right thing. You know in your heart if something feels right, don’t you? And then when you know you just have to act on it. Thank you for your lovely comment.

    Hi DAOINE:
    I’ve got a post brewing about Flo. She was such a cool lady!!

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  13. I love Joan Rivers so much.

    I have been thinking about karma a lot today. One of the things I’ve learned in life is that revenge isn’t worth it — people will usually get what’s coming to them. This morning I witnessed someone get payback for lots of mean, nasty, rude things they’ve done over the past few years. Part of me is glad they finally got what’s coming to them, but part of me feels bad it had to come to this and yet another part of me wonders if this person will even learn the important lessons from what transpired. I doubt it and that is sad and depressing as hell.

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  14. Hi KATE:
    Joan Rivers totally cracks me up. She is one of the most hilarious people on the planet. Love her!

    I agree with you about revenge – it is not worth it and people do get what’s coming to them. I firmly believe that. I’ve seen it happen. I know what you mean when you see someone get what’s coming to them – I sometimes feel bad for them but I hope above all that they learn from the experience. If npt the whole karmic experience is kind of wasted….

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