Good deeds can end up backfiring
January 14, 2010
Most of us in our daily lives have occasion to be a good samaritan.
It’s a tenet in the Cowboy Code; to be kind to the less fortunate, to help someone in need. Selfless deeds like stopping to help a stranded motorist, feed the neighbors’ dogs and horses while they are away, or euthanize an old cat … well, maybe I shouldn’t count that as a good deed, but I am a veterinarian.
However, in spite of our good intentions, our generosity can backfire.
Like offering to tune Willie Nelson’s guitar, or painting someone’s car while they’re away or, as a surprise, cutting down the big oak tree in the neighbor’s yard so they can have a better view of the reclaimed open pit mine.
There are many versions of friends helping friends who are doing something in the dark that needs illumination; like siphoning gas, or adjusting the acetylene torch, or sticking a bloat.
I can still hear the scratch of a match and Hank saying, “Here, lemme hep ya!” as my trocar penetrated the swollen rumen! The explosion lit the night sky, sterilized the surgical field, set the brim of my hat on fire and singed my mustache! But, he meant well.
I ran into Scott at the wheat growers meeting. He reminded me that he had come to a poetry gathering I had done in Ogden, Utah. He had worried that he would not be able to get a good seat since tickets were scarce.
“But,” he said, “to my good fortune I managed to get a single on the fourth row center.
“It was great,” he told me. “There were lots of fancy lookin’ cowgirls prancing down the aisles, boots shinin’ and curls bouncin’. Maybe one or even two would have the seats next to mine.”
Five minutes before the curtain rose he heard the usher escorting an elderly lady down the aisle with her walker. They stopped at the end of his row. Those seated rose so she could work her way to the seat right next to Scott. The usher stood her walker in the aisle.
Scott said the lady was nice and laughed a lot. She managed to stand up during the patriotic piece, and then later at the conclusion of the show.
As she stood to leave, she tottered and seemed to collapse. Scott slid his hands underneath her armpits and caught her. She was so light, so frail, he remembered. She said something he didn’t catch and then toppled over again. Once more he stepped in to save the day.
“Why don’t you just sit down and I’ll go get your walker,” Scott offered.
She turned to look at him and said, “I was trying to tell you, sonny, the usher’s got my walker and is waiting for me. And if you’ll just let me pick up my purse, I’ll go!”