No good deed…

The end of that aphorism is “…goes unpunished.” The ending to my real-life circle of general human kindness is more in the sadly shruggable category, but “No good deed…” is such a metric (and slightly ominous) lead-in that I couldn’t resist.

This post is part of my “drafts finalized” challenge, however, the original title was “Milk Made” and the original text was meant to be a milk punch update and books about milk. I didn’t leave myself enough data to pick up the threads of the original topic. And I have pretty much taken the chef’s toque off of this blog. Still, what I drafted in my head this morning honored the single ingredient theme, and I was all ready to explain why pork fat really does rule. But then a little anecdote in my life came full circle, and the more important part of the “drafts finalized” challenge -getting in the habit of posting every other day- won out over sticking to the old topics. So here we go.

At the end of October, I went to Washington, DC. I crammed substantive visits with 11 people, and a quest for a 12th into about 30 hours. To be fair, 3 of those people were children and had no choice about hanging out with me,  still not too shabby for a day and half. A the end of day 1, more fatigued than I wanted to be, I got into a cab at Union Station. The driver who was Ethiopian explained that he was new and asked me if he could use his GPS or if I wanted to plan the route. He was talkative and polite and somehow in the 1.5 mile ride I heard about his 2 daughters, the small food business he operated with his wife, and how is father always wanted him to come home.

Arriving at my destination we encountered a harsh impasse. I didn’t have any cash and he didn’t know how to use the credit card machine. Scenarios like that can go many ways. I think almost all of them have been presented at one time or another on a range of television programs. The funny outcomes end up on the quirky sitcoms, the other end of the spectrum might be seen on “Cops” or “Dateline.” Ours was somewhere in the middle. I apparently come off as an honest person, and my driver was revealed to have great faith in humanity. He gave me his home address and said I could send him the money. Whenever.

I like to shore up faith in humanity whenever I can, and I am a pretty honest person. So I sent him the money -cash, In case he did not have a bank account- to the address on the card he gave me.  And today it came back to me: “Not found. No forwarding address.”

It’s always nice to know the end of a story. I might not have, if he had received the cash. However, this ending made me sad. What transpired in those few weeks that he and his family are now gone? Did he give me the wrong address by accident? Or on purpose? Did I do all I could have? Should have? Did I meet the requirements for humanity in this exchange? And, of course, thinking the transaction complete, I recycled his contact information just yesterday. Trash day.

I’ll hold onto the money and think about it a little more, and probably find a way to pay to forward close to home. But there will long be a little cigarette hole in my awareness that I didn’t complete this ‘right action.’ What would you do?


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