Simple Ideas

Karma Savings Plan

Lifestyle & Culture | April 6, 2012

Part way through my romp around San Diego looking for a food seller that happened to be selling food that day, I came across a scene at a Pizza place that involved as one of the world's most patient servers and a typical terrible customer. This was a low budget pizza place where you tip when you pay. She tipped nothing, then had demands that would wear out the wait staff at a 5 star eatery where she would be paying 30 or 40 times more for dinner.

I watched the server, who was also doing 3 other jobs, endure. He was talking to his one coworker out of earshot, then he turned and said "I'm part of the Karma Savings Plan!" It was obvious it took a concerted effort to not blow a gasket with this customer. But he had the mindset going in that this is exactly how he would handle these kinds of events. His approach is roll with it and get them out the door so the that the low maintenance people who actually tip can get into the eatery.

This server is yet another role model for me. Doing anything other than what he did would only make the situation worse and hence make his day worse. Yes, bad that into his like this dimwit diva customer did fall, but you know what? She isn't likely to change. So no point in trying to educate her on the type of business or what a pain she is.

Compare this to my day where I had one student decide to rain heavily on my parade at the end of class. He was really "put upon" by having to take my class this week. Busy guy, true and the class took a week, And he didn't want to be there. And he needed to expand the rain cloud that was over his head to where it covered my head. He wasn't blaming me for the class, but his organization for sending him when he already took the class under another name in 1988.

By the time I got to the place that was supposed to do the recheck on my smog test, I was under a similar cloud. I forgot the Karma idea and was just as annoyed as the guy in my class.

Now here is the deal with my car. It failed the smog test a week ago. Not because it was putting out noxious fumes, but be cause the onboard computer had been reset the day before. That was done by the mechanics who replaced the ignition coil under a recall program. The bottom line of this is that 10 years ago someone made an ignition coil that was a problem. Doing the recall on that coil reset my PC which caused me to fail a smog test that I needed to get my registration renewed. Actually, I needed to clear the recall test too to get the registration. If I'd have done the smog before the recall, I'd have passed the smog test. Doing it in reverse order created this huge sequence of time and money wasting activities that really should (and did) annoy me.

The smog guys said "go drive the car around, you need to put 60 miles on it and the computer will reboot." Now here is an opportunity for a hyper-rational guy like me to go off the deep end. The car was within the emission standards. The only problem was the computer. And now the answer is to drive around and create more smog in order to pass the smog test. Not chill.

But I do that and in the process of driving around my check engine light pops on. I think, "Oh good, that is part of the computer reboot process, it has rebooted!" Yay! Just need to take it in and have them validate the computer reset.

I take it and the tech at smog test sees the light and says "oh that's an automatic fail!" I explain the theory that it was part of the reboot process and my guess was that the computer reset.

"Oh we don't guess here!" says tech one.

"Yep, there is something wrong with your engine. That is what that light means."

I was losing the Karma Bubble here. I was very close to giving them a brief lesson in electrical engineering, to wit, "All that light being on means is that the bulb hasn't burned out and there is electricity to the bulb."

And that is in fact a true statement. Periodically the check engine light goes on when you start the car under certain weather conditions. That is all it means, that one of 300 error codes popped. Most likely a transient. I was really fighting hard to not say something to the two guys who I was trying hard not to refer to as dumb and dumber. And I made it. I drove away without making it worse.

Still I had the remnants of the rain cloud student following me. So when I went to local oil change place to see if they could clear the code, they had a long line. I drove back to my place wondering just exactly how much wasted time this would entail and the likely outcome being I wouldn't have the test done by the time I need to renew my registration at this point. Which would mean getting pulled over by the police and even more wasted time.

Then I hit my "really?" moment. Really? I'm going to let this 10 year old ignition coil issue cast a pall over my life? What will happen will happen. I made an appointment to get the car looked at by the dealer the day I get back from my next teaching trip. It will take time, cost money and I expect result in them finding that there was no problem. I had 10 days to go back to the smog place for a half price retest. I'll miss that window due to the class next week. Meaning I'll have to pay full price for a new test. Which means...I won't be taking it back to see dumb and dumber!

And that my friends, is how the Karma Savings Plan pays you back!

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