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bad carma?
bad luck shatters windows, but not faith
by michelle von euw

Luck is a strange thing for me to be thinking about right now. Or maybe not. I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of a Jetta I’ve had for exactly seven days, looking behind me into the tan interior of the backseat, which still carries the new-car scent of the cleaning products used by the dealership between owners. Several times over the past week I’ve glanced back and smiled, relieved that I finally had a dependable car in terrific shape after close to a decade of dragging my beloved but battered Geo Metro up and down the east coast.

My Metro rocked. I could slide it into any parking space longer than the size of a Big Wheel, it got terrific gas mileage, and insurance was amazingly cheap, because who would want to steal a car that my mother-in-law called the “tin can?” Of course, the Metro had its problems –- a dented passenger door from the year I lived in Georgetown, the ability to go from zero to fifty in no less than four minutes, a window that wouldn’t open, and no air conditioning. While a subcompact car is perfect for my demure 5’4" stature, I had no way of knowing back in 1996 that I’d marry a man a foot taller than me. It required several minutes of acrobatic moves to fold him into the little car, and he’d have to remain in a reclining position whenever the car was in motion.

I was a Geo Girl long after Geo itself ceased to exist. Though for the past few years, it seemed inevitable that my car would follow its makers, and I’ve been holding my breath, waiting for the last big gasp. That big gasp came nine days ago, when the exhaust and everything around it collapsed, accruing more in damage than my loyal car was worth. That’s when I upgraded to a Jetta -– a gently used one, with 32,000 miles and a shiny navy blue exterior, the car of my dreams that promised all the safety and dependability of that mythical concept of German Engineering.

In the eight years I had the Geo, however, I’d never slammed the trunk and watched the glass above it mysteriously, completely shatter into a million pieces. Like what just happened to its replacement. I know I didn’t close the trunk too hard, more than normal strength, because my back and shoulder muscles still ache from the car accident I had three days ago, where I was the passenger in a car, stopped at a red light, that was hit from behind at about 40 miles an hour.

Let’s review: in fewer than ten days, I’ve killed one car, replaced it, been in a car accident, and watched my rear windshield shatter in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart for no apparent reason.

It now is starting to rain.

I’m a huge believer in karma -– as a resident of Red Sox Nation, I have to be. There’s some mystical power that keeps certain actions in check, which is the only reason our denizens remember the names Dave Henderson, Bucky Effen Dent, Bill Buckner, Terry Cooney, and Aaron Boone. These powers are responsible for keeping sports aligned, so a town that experiences sixteen NBA championships and hoists two of the last three Lombardi trophies appreciates these accomplishments that much more. Everyone in the world knows the Red Sox and the Cubs, and there’s always that underdog sympathy attached to those two teams, no matter how high their payrolls may soar.

Its kind of fun to be the underdog – only because I believe that sometime soon (very soon, maybe even this year, as the eternal refrain begins every spring), the gods of karma will look favorably upon us, and we’ll get that World Series championship, which will mean so much more than those 26 rings in New York (or the two in Florida, the latest of which came with very little disappointment or even really a wait to the fourteen fans who actually stuck with the Marlins after their 1997 fire sale.)

Karma in sports is one thing -– it’s much more difficult to apply this series of checks and balances to real life, wondering if this morning spent staring in disbelief at the jagged pieces of window, then figuring out where to take it, how to get it there, and who exactly was responsible for the damage, would somehow balance out someday in the future. Two hours and forty-seven cell phone calls later, I ended up six miles up Route One at an auto glass repair shop that could probably fix it this afternoon. (Did you know you can drive a car with only a jagged frame of glass framing an open hole? Can you imagine how much fun it was to take this down Route One, a stretch of road packed with businesses, stores, and fast food restaurants, and packed with Saturday morning patrons? Are you proud of the restraint I showed to the charming gentleman behind me who leaned on his horn because I dared drive five miles under the speed limit in the far right lane?)

I can’t quite figure out what I’ve done in the past few weeks to generate the anger of the gods of the automotive industry. Forgotten the occasional oil change? Purchased discount gas? Bought foreign when GM supported my family for forty years? To put it simply, my carma sucks.

How does one change bad luck? As the Red Sox have found out, nothing, including voodoo rituals in the outfield, exorcisms by Fr. Guido Sarducci, the burning of a Yankees' cap on the top of Mount Everest, Cy Young pitchers, All-Star catchers, batting titles, division titles, Cowboy Up, Yankees Suck, and guys named Nomar, Yaz, and Ted, are enough to battle a ground ball’s bad hop or a corked bat or a blister on Roger Clemens' thumb.

It is now noon. My car has a new windshield, and an actual culprit (a misplaced clip on the trunk’s hinge) that is easily repaired. There are a million worse things that could have happened to me today, this week, in a motor vehicle, and I should be grateful that all my problems -– while annoying and even tear-inducing -– have been relatively minor.

Maybe my luck isn't so bad. And maybe the Sox are primed to win this year's World Series.


Originally from Boston, Michelle is a writer, editor, instructor, obsessive sports fan, loud talker, quick laugher, new mom, and chances are, she watches more television than you do. Follow her on Twitter at michellevoneuw

more about michelle von euw


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topic: sports
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by michelle von euw
topic: sports
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matt morin
4.7.04 @ 12:17a

Maybe you're getting paid back for years of driving a Geo instead of a real car.

Just kidding.

matt morin
4.7.04 @ 12:51a

I'm not sure I totally believe in karma. I want to, but I've seen too many bad things happen to too many good people, and vice versa.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it's just a phenomenon made up by humans.

robert melos
4.7.04 @ 2:42a

Nope Matt. Karma is real. I've seen it in play just theis past week. The theory of Karma is, what goes around, comes around. It doesn't always happen in the same lifetime, or make sense, but when bad things happen, just think to yourself, "whatever I did to deserve this is now a paid debt." I should point out that what you put out comes back to you three fold.

Michelle, remember, sometimes bad things just happen and it isn't Karma. Everything happens for a reason. Maybe the rear window was meant to shatter in a parking lot rather than while you were driving.

As long as you were unhurt, it's all good. And good luck with the car.

sarah ficke
4.7.04 @ 7:48a

This is a fabulous article, Michelle. I hope your car troubles are over now. So how well does Joe* fit into the Jetta?

tracey kelley
4.7.04 @ 9:35a

To put it simply, my carma sucks.

You are so clever.

You are =so= lucky you weren't more seriously hurt! 40 mph is a fast speed to hit an immovable object.

Poor Jetta! I also have an image of Joe* reclining in the Geo and the Jetta, similiar to how Matt* used to fit in my Toyota Tercel.

I believe in karma. Keeps my spirits up, if anything. But I look at as more of a duty, really. If someone does something nice for me unexpectedly, I usually try to do something nice for someone else right away, figuring I've had my allotment, and it's my responsibility to pass it on.

It's also said that bad things come in threes, 'Chelle. So you're done now. Yay!

dathan wood
4.7.04 @ 12:11p

You were being punished for shopping at wal-mart.

It's a VW thing. My brother had a Golf that I had to borrow one day while my car was in the shop. At one point I got in, shut the door and boom! the back window blew out. I was at a gas station and for a second I thought the guy that hates these cans took a shot at me but I think it's just the intake of air when you shut the doors/trunk creating a lot of pressure.

matt morin
4.7.04 @ 1:20p

Tracey, I can see your point.

I'm more apt to believe karma as a lifestyle. Someone does something nice for you, you should go do something nice for someone else. Or vice versa.

I'm less apt to believe that karma is some mystical force that makes good things happen to you when you've been good and bad things happen to you when you've been bad.

r. borden
4.7.04 @ 9:22p

Have faith, Michelle things will get better.

The engineer in me looks at probabilities, and the rules say that your luck will even out, and maybe already has.

Karma only works if you believe it, whether it be for good or evil. Once you've convinced yourself you're on a bad streak, your mind highlights all the bad events and glosses over the good ones.

So, how to get good karma? Try counting blessings, looking at the big picture (in your life). Pray, if you're so inclined.

On the other hand... I don't think even if Jesus himself pitched, it could help the Cubs (or Sox)!

tracey kelley
4.7.04 @ 9:41p


Boy, you must miss the girls to be trolling around here.

dan gonzalez
4.11.04 @ 12:40a

On the other hand... I don't think even if Jesus himself pitched, it could help the Cubs (or Sox)!

That's because if Jesus did pitch, he'd be in an Indians uniform. ;-)


michelle von euw
1.31.05 @ 10:48p

Wow -- the last sentence of this column is spooky. Who knew I'd be so good at predicting the future?

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