So maybe it’s true. Maybe there is such a thing as karma.
Last Friday I went to visit my niece. She is a new mum and my only niece, and I am her only aunt. In the random lottery of family relationships we count ourselves quite lucky, as we also happen to like each other.
Anyway, it was the day before her birthday so off I went, armed with a suitably wrapped birthday gift in one of those nifty LuluLemon carry bags. It was quite a hot day, but I’d stowed my favourite cotton cardigan in the bag too as their house is air-conditioned. The cardi is a fabulous shade of bright orangey red that exactly matched my lipstick (Nars Heatwave) and looked great with my blue and white cotton dress. So I was feeling pretty chic for someone who wilts in the heat.
I took the train to avoid inner city traffic and spent the short trip answering emails on my smart phone, as you do. Along the way, a homeless man cruised our sparsely populated carriage, hustling for small change. My usual MO is to keep my head down and ignore those guys but something made me give him some coins. Maybe it was his gracious manner. Possibly his unusual grey eyes. Whatever, it was only a couple of dollars, but I just felt like it and he seemed grateful.
Busy with gmail, I almost missed the stop but noticed just in time that I’d arrived and zipped out through the doors. My phone was in my hand. My handbag was over my shoulder. My carry bag was still on the train.
Don’t you hate that feeling? It’s such a horrid dawning of dismay and regret, coupled with the knowledge that you are, in fact, an idiot. I hardly ever lose anything. I’m that irritating, organised person who never runs out of gin and always knows where to find her keys, sunglasses, wallet and phone. Even my reading glasses don’t escape. Besides, I’d just given a homeless man a couple of dollars. Wasn’t that supposed to be good karma?
The station I had arrived at was not staffed, but there was an emergency button to which someone responded IMMEDIATELY to ascertain whether I needed the police, the fire brigade or an ambulance. Impressed with the service but embarrassed at the trivial nature of my emergency, I explained my predicament and the very helpful operator gave me the number of the lost and found department. Thus began a circuitous series of calls through the maze of bureaucracy until I reached someone at the ultimate destination of my train.
Another helpful soul, he kindly checked the carriage when it arrived but to no avail. The bag with my niece’s birthday gift and my beloved red cardi were gone, gone, gone. He said there was a chance my parcel might have been handed in between my station and his, but neither of us thought it likely. Nevertheless, he suggested I call the lost and found department on Monday, just in case.
So I greeted my niece empty-handed and told her about the gift-wrapped copy of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Minute Meals that was on its way to Destination Unknown. She was delighted with my choice and even happier to know it had a voucher for company, entitling her to a pedicure. I had been quite proud of my Cunning Plan, which was to look after my adorable great-niece while she went to the salon of her choice. Not knowing which salon that was, I hadn’t yet pre-paid the pedi so the entire gift was easily replaceable. But I’d never see my cardigan again. Oh well.
Monday morning. I decided to call the lost and found department before heading back to the bookshop for another copy of Jamie’s cookbook, because… well, you never know, do you? I was sure I recognised the voice of the very helpful man at the other end as one of the long line of people I’d spoken to on Friday. He asked me to describe the parcel I had left behind. Easy. It was burnt into my brain.
Then he asked me to describe the carry bag. Easy. LuluLemon bags are pretty distinctive. He wanted to know the colour of the cardigan and I felt a flicker of hope. Then he asked for a description of the wrapping paper. Bright pink and covered in cupcakes. Was there anything else in there? Yup. Turquoise envelope with a card inside. Name on the envelope? I gave him my niece’s name.
Yes, you guessed it. My carry bag and all its contents are at the lost and found department at Flinders Street Station, the beating heart of this great city. The man on the phone was so helpful I said I’d hug him if I was there in person. He told me that can be arranged when I pick up the bag tomorrow and gave me an ID number as a record of my call.
Maybe a girl with an eye for a LuluLemon bag picked it up and handed it in. Or maybe it was a kind old lady who set the wheels in motion. I’d like to think it was the homeless guy doing another sweep of the carriages, who noticed the parcel sitting in the spot where a woman had given him a couple of bucks.
I’ll never know, but if it’s not karma, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. And I can’t tell you how much calmer that makes me feel.