Dear Karma Cleanser: I've been a DJ and an avid vinyl collector for about eight years. Two years ago, I met another DJ named Robbie who invited me to play at a house party. While there, I met yet another DJ, who I'll call DJ X, because I can't remember his name.
Toward the end of the party, I was finishing my set and there wasn't anyone in the room with me at the time. So while getting my records together, I noticed that DJ X had a few rare records by a few artists that I like. I quietly slipped the records into my bag and then went out to have a smoke and left shortly thereafter.
A few days later, I got a call from Robbie telling me that DJ X was missing some records and he wondered if I might have picked them up on accident. The next day, I phoned him back to tell him I didn't find any of the missing records.
So, two years later, I'm still feeling guilty about what I did. I finally realized that the right thing to do is to return the records. I never saw DJ X again, so I e-mailed Robbie trying to find out if he knows how to contact DJ X. Unfortunately, he hasn't spoken to DJ X in over a year.
Now I'm at a loss. I do not want the stolen records around me anymore, but
I still want them. I am unsure as to what I should do to restore my karma.
-- DJ Thief
We doubt you can ever listen to the ill-gotten vinyl again without suffering flashes of remorse, and rightfully so. You must rid yourself of the cursed records quickly. Since you can't give them back to their proper owner, at least pass them along to a colleague who would revel in the acquisition. Your karma won't be spotless, but there are cosmic rewards for making an aspiring turntablist's day.
Dear Karma Cleanser: About this time last year, you ran a letter on the problem of re-gifting. I can't remember your answer, but now I have the opposite situation. I have received a lame (to me, at least) gift that I want to turn around and give to another friend. Is my karma in jeopardy?
-- Mrs. Grinch
Every December we face this question, and our answer has stayed virtually the same each year. There's no harm in re-gifting, so long as you handle it properly and make sure that the receiver doesn't know they're getting a recycled present. Our philosophy: It's almost always better to give something, even if the gift is a repeat. Sometimes what you call "lame," others might find fantastic.
Been bad? firstname.lastname@example.org.