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Karma Cleanser

Will it come back to bite me?


Dear Karma Cleanser:

Eight months after closing on my house, I still receive mail for the previous owner, who, during his tenure there, stole cable, water (yes, water: the meter had to be removed), AC unit components and who knows what else. He was also in bankruptcy. He did not work, was an avid gardener and appeared to be in perfect health.

I "forward" most of his mail even without a forwarding address. Last week, he received a government disability check. I was reminded of a friend who used to be a private investigator: His job involved busting people who claimed disability but who had no health problems.

I'm wondering if by withholding this check, I am simultaneously committing mail fraud and offering a public service. As an underpaid, overworked, overtaxed, debt and welfare-free secretary, I'm liking the idea of helping Uncle Sam more than helping a stealing deadbeat (or is this redundant?). Thoughts?

---- By Grace Alone

The details you've gathered certainly sketch out an unflattering portrait of the former tenant, yet you shouldn't prematurely think you know the truth of his life writ large. Imagine if we all were judged by the mail we receive -- who among us would not be damned? The matter of the disability check isn't yours to dabble in, so let it lie and keep Pandora's (mail)box safely closed, at least for now.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

Two years ago, I told a big lie to all my friends. I had just started seeing a new girl at the time, so she heard the lie as well. The whole thing blew over quickly. Nobody ever questioned my story.

Now it's two years later, and my girlfriend and I are engaged. We were together the other night and she asked me to tell her anything that I've never told her before. I came very close to telling her about the lie. I did not.

I am worried that somewhere down the line this will come back to me in a very bad way. I think when it does come out, my girlfriend will want to know why I never told her.

---- Turmoil in Tennessee

It's hard for the Karma Cleanser to get a real sense of your situation given the vague details you've offered. Just how "big" was the lie? Are we talking a minor fib like "I got a raise at work," or something closer to, "I'm the lost love child of the Countess of Wessex"? What's clear is the mountain of guilt you're shouldering, which can't be healthy or pleasant. Tell your would-be spouse post-haste: She deserves to know what she's getting herself into.

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