Points for Half-Boiled Good Deeds

I promised myself that my next blog posting would focus on a gem of research on helping or some upcoming fundraiser for a good cause. But this was too funny – and possibly thought-provoking – not to share.

A couple of days ago I took one of my rare trips downtown. I live in the Toronto suburbs and work from home, so I can be a hermit for days on end. Of course when you’re out in public, the opportunities to lend a helping hand crop up much more frequently.

I got off a subway train, happened to notice a woman with a white cane navigating her way through the station, and asked her if she wished any assistance. She didn’t need or wish it, although I did get a beautiful smile for my trouble.

Thus it was pretty ironic, when, a couple of hours later on my way to my second appointment, a totally different woman with a white cane was thrown into my lap to be helped. Maybe not literally thrown. But. This lady was in the company of – well, let’s call her a semi-good Samaritan, who had helpfully agreed to escort her across one street. And was now ready to wash her hands of her. Pass her off like so much courier package. She took one look at me waiting for the light to change and declared: “You can take her now.”

Naturally I was nonplussed. Turns out the first lady needed to get to the streetcar stop. And Semi-Good Samaritan – let’s call her Sammy for short – was reluctant to walk the last few feet with her because it wasn’t right on her way. “I’m going in this direction,” Sammy told me, pointing. She fled.

The first lady was good-humoured. “It’s a tricky corner,” I commented to make small talk as she and I waited for the busy traffic to come to a stop. “Yes, especially when you can’t see,” she deadpanned. I didn’t ask her what she thought of being ditched. We parted at the streetcar stop and wished each other a good day.

Later, I couldn’t help laughing as I told this tale to my husband. Who stops a good deed in the middle? He’s the one who said the story belongs on my blog. So here’s today’s discussion point: Does a half good deed count? My opinion: Of course it does. It’s still part of a deed instead of no deed. Acts of kindness aren’t anything anyone owes, or that we ought to expect. They’re the gravy, not the food staples. We should just be grateful when good deeds happen. Even the ones that take you only partway to your streetcar stop.

Besides, in my experience, there’s usually someone else who will go the next lap with you.

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