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April 2, 2010
Karma - Universal Currency Exchange

I am a big believer in the concept of "Karma" (as well as the ideas of "pay it forward" and "random acts of kindness"). 
Last Friday afternoon, I was at my desk about 5pm finishing up a few things before the weekend ahead when the phone rang.  The caller identified himself as John and he was looking for a low amperage fuse that he had been looking all day to find.  I looked the part up and voilá...we had 2800 pieces on our shelf! 
I asked from which Optifuse distributor he was calling from and after he told me that he was with a local plastic injection molding company, I explained to him that OptiFuse only sold products through authorized distributors but that I could give him several local ones to contact.
John explained that one of his machines was down and that he only needed 1-2 fuses to get him back on-line and that he would be willing to pay $10 a fuse (normally retailing for about $0.25 per fuse) just so he could get his machine back up and running. 
I told him our UPS had come for the day but not to worry.   I would just "sample" him 5 pieces (just so he had a few spares on hand) and would walked them over to the mailbox before I left for the weekend so he would get them the next day.  No charge.
On Monday, he wrote me an e-mail telling me that the fuses had arrived and worked great to get him back up and running.  He was happy...his customer was happy.
It was a small amount of effort and cost on my part but was extremely meaningful to John and the customers that depended on John to get their products on time.
Here’s where the story gets somewhat strange...
On Wednesday of this past week, I was doing some follow-up work for a local charity I support by calling some local businesses looking for some auction items for the charity’s annual dinner / dance / auction in to be held in August.  One of the names on the list was a local manufacturer of skateboards and skating apparel. 
I called the skateboard company and was put in touch with their director of marketing who told me that they get hundreds of requests but that she would speak to the company’s president about a small donation and get back to me.  Within 5 minutes, I received a phone call back from the marketing director who told me that a significant package of items would be shipped to us the following day.
As you may have guessed, the president of the skateboard company turned out to be my new friend "John" who I had helped a week before.  He also happens to own a plastic injection mold shop to make skateboard wheels. 
Now I honestly didn’t know the connection between the two companies (I’m not a skateboarder).  Once John saw my name, he immediately wanted to repay the favor I had shown him and sent over a box of skateboarding items worth several hundreds of dollars to help the charity.
This is an example of Karma in its purest form...
Good Karma isn’t created by a "quid pro quo" relationship (you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours).  Positive Karma is created by wanting nothing back in return.  It’s the idea that giving of yourself is good for the community, society, and the world as a whole.  I didn’t give John fuses because I wanted something from him at the time...I just wanted to help him out...it was the right thing to do at the time...
Giving isn’t necessarily limited to money either...it’s fairly easy to reach in your pocket to give a homeless person some loose change...but it takes a bit more effort to go with that same person to get them a hot meal or a cold drink on a hot day (it also ensures that your money will be spent on feeding a person food rather them allowing them to use the money to perhaps feed a "habit").
It’s been a pretty rough last few years for a big percentage of our population.  What I’ve witnessed though is that people, even though they seem to have less, are giving more.  Maybe this is because more people than ever are actually closer to the "other side of prosperity" than ever before so they too might one day be that hungry person forced to ask for a hand-out.
I am especially proud of the newest generation of young people who seem to be focused on how we all must fit into a global community.  Schools are now requiring community service hours as a part of graduation requirements.  Once people see how their efforts affect the world around them they are more likely to continue their good works into the future. 
A few years ago, I heard about the concept of "random acts of kindness" while visiting the Bay Area.  I was reading a San Francisco Chronicle news article that told where cars crossing toll bridges were paying the tolls for a car (or two) behind them.  Imagine the good feelings and thoughts that were created for one or two dollars.  Even if the person in the car behind was having a bad day...I’m certain a smile would have emerged on their face knowing that they were the "victim" of a random act of kindness.  Perhaps they might even return the act of kindness upon someone else during the course of the day.
Every once in a while, I’ll buy a soda from a vending machine and then put enough money into the machine to pay for next soda out of the machine.  I don’t stick around to find out who that person might be...but I feel certain that soda will taste a bit sweeter to whoever might have been the lucky person who got a free cold drink.

The knowledge that you’re helping another human being is itself the reward...

Helping others is a good thing.  Making people smile is a good thing.  Spreading happiness is a good thing...
Today is Good Friday...

...enjoy your weekend!

Thank you very much for your continued support of OptiFuse where we hope to bring awareness to the world we share.

Jim Kalb
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