Instant Karma At SXSW

I’ve long been a believer in Karma. Not in a supernatural way, but in the idea that through a series of loose and indirect actions that help others, what goes around does indeed come around. This week, at SXSW, I experienced full-blown instant Karma, and the story is too good not to share.

I left my Airbnb, and headed out to find a car2go to drive into downtown Austin. (Side note: 2 of those 3 proper nouns didn’t exist 5 years ago.) When I found a car, I reached down to put the key in the ignition, and my hand grazed a shiny new iPhone 5s. It was on, unlocked, and had no service. Apparently, the previous owner had already given up and cancelled the service. After a brief second of hesitation (sorry, Mom), I decided the rest of the day would be my mission to track down the owner and save him 700 bucks. Having been the target of a stolen iPhone earlier this year, I remembered that sinking feeling and knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night unless I made an honest effort.

Through a series of jumping between apps, the lost phone, and my phone, I got ahold of one lucky dude on Google Voice. I’ll leave his name out and refer to him as “Darren” for this post.


“Your Facebook says you partied too hard last night, had a #SXSFail, and bought a new iPhone this morning. You can go ahead and return that!”

You can imagine where the conversation went from there. I was already content just feeling like I did the right thing, but was promised a round on Darren for my troubles. I’m not one to argue with that. I headed downtown to the bar he set up as the meeting point. As I walked up to “Chicago House,” the door was full of security guards who wouldn’t let me in. That’s when Darren came to the door and said “It’s cool – he’s with me.”

This is where it gets awesome.

It turns out, Darren is a local DJ and producer. He was setting up the sound for Rahm Emanuel’s private party to host a bunch of big wigs from the City of Chicago. Not only that, but Rahm wanted local Chicago artists there, so The Hood Internet was in the back room setting up for their set later that night. As Darren slapped a VIP wristband on my hand, he brought me into the dance club in the back and asked “want to meet the band?”

Darren was eagerly sharing the story with everyone who would listen. I had a pre-show dance party with the one and only White Mystery Band, talked shop with The Hood Internet, reminisced about my late hours of coding in college to their music, and snapped a nice little souvenir shot.


And just to add another layer on the cake, having a little chat with the mayor of Chicago himself wasn’t too bad either.


Obviously, this sort of direct and instant Karmic exchange won’t happen every time you track down that poor soul who lost his phone. But it’s certainly a great reminder the next time I’m at a crossroads: good things happen when you’re good to people. And it just feels all warm and fuzzy.

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