No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Recently I’ve been mulling over the concept of “no good deed going unpunished”. I have definitely felt this to be true on a number of occasions throughout my life when I did what I thought was a good deed for someone else, and it later came back to me bite me in the butt, so to speak.

My current ponderings are the result of an exception I made last year for a student at the college where I work. I thought that I had made it very clear that I was making a special exception to the college’s policy due to his unusual circumstances, and that when 2014 started, he would need to follow the same policies as all the other students.

Instead, he has not only flat out refused to follow the college’s policies, but has lied to everyone up the chain of command telling them that I told him things that I did not tell him, and demanding that the same exception be made for him in perpetuity, despite the fact that all the other students are willingly in compliance and he is not.

The result? So far the student has not gotten the special treatment he seems to be demanding, but he has wasted the time and energy of myself and several other administrators at the college. I personally find the whole situation very depressing. From my perspective, I did something nice for this student, and his response has been to tell lies about what I said, to try to leverage those lies for special treatment, and to slander my good name to my boss and the head of the college.

And herein lies the rub: when you do something nice for someone, and they throw it back in your face in one manner or another, how do you keep your faith in the correctness of doing good deeds? How do you keep from letting one (or more) rotten apples, ruin the rest of the barrel for you?

I suppose that this is where being middle-aged should have some benefits. I’ve been this round before, when I helped people who then took advantage of my good nature. As a younger woman, it was a hard lesson to learn, and I had to end several friendships because of it. I should be used to it, but I still find this type of behavior distressing and depressing. It make me question my own choices and wonder if I have to be “tougher” with the students in order for them to learn important life lessons.

The reality is that I don’t want this negative experience to keep me from being open to future students who genuinely need my help, and for whom an exception to the rules is warranted and appreciated. So I’ll try to add this to my long list of life experiences, and remember that (a) if I’m nice to someone and they take advantage, the fault lies with them, not with me, and (b) college should be a place where one learns not only academic subjects, but how the world works, and that means obeying institutional policies if you want to be a member in good standing of that institution, and (c) good deeds should be rewarded, if not here on earth, then hopefully somewhere in the afterlife.

Therefore, I resolve to keep on earning those karma points, so someday I will go to a place with like-minded people (and dogs) who believe that good deeds and the people who do them should be rewarded and passed forward, instead of exploited.

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