karma police

I learned yesterday that it takes me one hour, 62 minutes to be exact, to walk from our doorstep to Falcon Square in the center of Inverness (provided a few sips of tea and three tiny muffins are taken in on the way). I had planned on going to a concert and, after a housebound day, decided to literally go there, as some exercise sounded like a good idea.

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Half an hour before the promoted start of the gig the box office was only opened briefly when I knocked on said window, informing me that Yes, there are still tickets, but No, not before 8 pm. I took a stroll to the train station to got some cash of a bankmachine. Heading towards a pub to pass some time, I was stopped by a girl in her late teens. She nervously asked if I spoke english and would I please listen to her very briefly. She was a student at Inverness College and said she needed to go home by bus, she lost her monthly ticket and was denied entry by a rude busdriver and for the past hour has been walking up and down the road, asking people for a few pounds.

I gave change to people on the streets before, on occasions knowing that they asked for “bus money” but really would buy go off to buy a drink. Some have a well established routine and you can tell that they are used to talking strangers into sparing some coins. The tide scale of tears in that girl’s eyes was between half- and very full troughout her two-minute-monologue. This, and the hurried and applologetic, yet determined way in which she talked made it quite obvious that she was in honest despair.

I interrupted her, asking “How much do you need”, “Six pounds” was the answer, so far she had been able to collect 2 pounds and some pennies. I had no change but just came from the bankmachine, so looking at her I demanded “Hand over those coins, immediately”, handing her a tenner. She could barely believe her luck, thanked me, tears now running, promised to pay the money back and was off.

What stayed with me after she left for the busstop was a feeling of annoyance that nobody had sorted her out with the ticketmoney before I did. A) because it would have saved me spending the equivalent of three Ales on a random act of kindndess and B) because despite her being vulnerable and rather desperate, yet articulate there was no sufficient accumulated decency out there to help her get home. Then again, it won’t go through as a major revelation that all you can do to increase kindness is being kind, without asking for anything in return. And lastly, whereas I don’t like the sound of patting my own shoulder, there is a point in telling the above, and it is just this: Doing good feels good. No Karma-implications needed.

PS: What really rocked my boat at the concert later that night will be on a future post, as this one unwittingly drifted to great length.

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