Where do you draw the line between having good karma and simply being a doormat? Can anyone tell me? It’s a hard line to find.
If you follow me on facebook, you will have gathered that Virgin Mobile and I have been having a bit of a tiff over the past couple of weeks. I have become SO frustrated with their completely UNhelpful help line that I have resorted to posting about them in my facebook status. Pretty childish, I admit. I haven’t had any help with solving my problem, but I have had a couple of COMPLETE STRANGERS who work for Virgin and/or their sibling company SPRINT send me friend requests. What?!?! Yeah, right! As if I’m going to become bosom buddies with a complete stranger!
What’s all that got to do with karma? And what exactly is karma anyway? Most people think of it as a ‘what-goes-around-comes-around’ kind of thing. You get what you give. Live by the sword, die by the sword. But I like the way Sarah Napthali describes it:
“There needn’t be anything magical or superstitious in our understanding of karma. The way the Buddha described it, it sounds perfectly logical. It’s not about the universe making judgements, punishing bad deeds and rewarding good. Karma is about cause and effect: everything you do, think and say has a result. The Buddha said:
Wherever we go, wherever we remain
The results of our actions follow us.” (p.34)
Napthali, S. (2003), Buddhism for mothers: A calm approach to caring for yourself and your children.
Sydney. Allen & Unwin.
And in a later paragraph: “Your mother was always helping her friend. You see a mother in need, remember your own mother’s example and help your friend. It was easy enough to do and made you feel good so you help your friend again. Soon you start helping more friends and before you know it you have the character of a helpful person with a helpful person’s destiny ahead of you.” (ibid. p. 35).
So, a simple way to think about it is, you get better at what you practice. Practice being patient and kind, and you become a kind a patient person. And as a result, those around you who are influenced by your behaviour also become a little kinder and more patient. And don’t think you’re not influenced by those around you. How many times have you gone into a store and been met by a less-than-happy-to-be-there employee, and just felt a little less happy to be there yourself? And those of you with children will surely know how quickly our mood as parents tends to filter through into the moods (and behaviour!) of our children. Similarly, you feel better for having spent time in the presence of someone calm and wise. Like my dear yoga teacher Eve.
So what’s all the fuss about Virgin? Here’s the story. It’s time to upgrade to a new phone. To take advantage of a great deal Virgin have going on a really good phone (they are cheap, I’ll grant them that!), I needed to also upgrade from pre- to post-paid. Not so hard, really. You just go to a Virgin Mobile store, fill in the form, provide some ID and about 15 minutes later, hey presto! You’re the proud owner of a new phone. With Aps. Yay!
My application for post-paid was declined.
‘You must have a credit problem,’ I was told. No, I do not. I have never defaulted on anything in my life. And I have a piece of paper from Virgin’s preferred credit checking agency to prove it. So why was I declined? Is it because I don’t have a credit card? Well, I do have a credit card, it’s just linked to my husband’s account. (The best kind of credit card to have, don’t you think?) And anyway, that’s beside the point. What if I were independently wealthy and could pay for everything in cash? Would they still decline my application then?
Or perhaps it’s because I’m self employed. But hang on…. independently wealthy, self employed…. Sounds a bit like Richard Branson. I wonder whether he would qualify for a post-paid account with Virgin Mobile…..
Or maybe I was declined because I have a nose.
I really just don’t know. And the reason I’m so angry about the situation is no-one in Virgin Mobile will explain. I have asked and asked, and I keep getting conflicting responses:
“You will receive a letter detailing why your application was declined.”
Nope. No letter.
So I ask the people at the Virgin Customer (Un)service Centre in Manila — the one that plays you a song on hold with the lyrics “I can’t assist you, even if I try”. Yes. Really. Those were the lyrics — and their response is “Letter? What letter? We don’t send out any letters explaining why your application was declined because we do not share that information.” And then when I say how ridiculous that is, and that the man in the Virgin store in Sydney said I would get a letter and that on a previous phone call to Manila I was told the same thing by some other Customer Un-service Representative, and the response is “You just have to wait for your letter.”
That would be the one that they don’t send.
And so, having exhausted all avenues with Virgin, I have lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Of course, they can’t force Virgin to approve my application, but they can insist on them providing an explanation as to why my application was declined.
I’m beginning to think it just might be fun to be 3 after all.
And what of my karma? Well, seriously dented. I have lost my rag several times in utter frustration. So much for equanimity and detachment. It’s a phone, for goodness sake! Not really that important. I’m old enough to remember when phones were big and clunky and had curly cords and dials that went round and round. Is my life really going to be ruined if I don’t have a cute little phone with Aps? Hardly. I’ve finally reached a point where I just can’t get riled up about it anymore.