Sunday, March 10, 2002
Anyone who has ever received a parking ticket when the meter ran out while they were doing charitable work knows that no good deed goes unpunished.
When I expressed that view to the meter maid who was writing my ticket, she continued writing and self-righteously replied that "a good deed should be its own reward."
Well, yeah. I suppose that's true ï¿½ on whatever planet she's from.
Here on Earth I don't expect rewards for doing good deeds, but neither do I anticipate a $2 fine.
My cousin Yola once had an expensive fender-bender while she was taking another cousin to the bus station. Yola's rewards were double: No one was injured and the wreck wasn't her fault. Still, she must have wondered if the deed wouldn't have been just as good had she called a taxi for her cousin instead of serving as her personal chauffeur.
My friend Darlene suffered actual physical pain as a result of a good deed she performed. She was laid up for a week after she threw out her back while moving and setting up tables and chairs for a PTA function.
One of my good deeds gone potentially painfully bad involved my friend Ila. At the time, I was managing our county political headquarters and had recently met Ila, who ï¿½ although a member of the opposing party ï¿½ was volunteering there to help a candidate who we mutually agreed was the best person for the office. When Rho, my bedfast friend, phoned to say she required help marking her absentee ballot, I thought it prudent to take along a witness. Ila readily agreed to accompany me to Rho's home.
Once the ballot had been marked to Rho's satisfaction, Ila and I spent quite a long time visiting with her as she was obviously grateful to have company. When I ran out of things to talk about ï¿½ yes, it IS possible ï¿½ Ila cheerfully regaled us with tales of her many charitable and church activities.
When Rho's teen-age son came home, Ila and I said goodbye and started down the hall from the bedroom to the living room. I was a few steps ahead of Ila when the Hound from Hell attacked. Chaos ï¿½ screams, barks, growls (some of them mine) ï¿½ ensued. I kicked at the beast with my high heels and found as primary targets my own calves and ankles.
Suddenly, a green jacket mysteriously appeared in my hand. I waved it at the dog who grabbed it between his teeth and engaged me in a brief, but vicious, tug-of-war contest. I decided to let the dog have the jacket, made a dash for the front door and pushed through it with the snarling canine hot on my heels. The door slammed shut in the dog's face and I stood safe on the porch. Whew!
As my pulse slowed and my breathing eased, I realized I had left Ila, whom I had last seen pressed against the far wall of the hall, trapped inside with the beast-dog. Thoughts of her made me wonder if, during my terrifying encounter with the dog, I had used words that might seem offensive to the ears of such a sweet and virtuous lady as Ila obviously is.
Abruptly, the door opened and Ila leaped through. As the door closed, she collapsed against it and exclaimed, "#@&*#! I need a cigarette!"
I drove to the county courthouse, thinking that there I surely could find someone from whom I might bum a cigarette for Ila, who acknowledged that she hadn't smoked in years (more accurately, that she hadn't NEEDED to smoke in years).
We sat on the courthouse steps and relived our horrific adventure while Ila attempted to calm her jangled nerves with a borrowed cigarette.
"That was the biggest dog I ever saw in my life!" I said. "Was it a rottweiler, Great Dane or mastiff?"
"I don't think it was quite that big," Ila remarked, "but where on Earth did that jacket come from?"
"I haven't a clue," I answered. "It had to be a miracle. I think God must have handed it to me."
When I recently encountered Ila, she told me that, while walking with a friend, she had been the victim of another dog that attacked her ï¿½ "He came out of nowhere!" ï¿½ and sent her to the hospital. While I was delighted that she had fully recovered from her injuries, I couldn't help thinking that it was too bad she had been exercising instead of doing a good deed. A green jacket miracle would have come in handy.
ï¿½ Marsha Henry Goff is a free-lance writer in Lawrence. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.