Good turn or wrong turn?

Five Good Turns That Turned Bad

It’s said that no good deed goes unpunished, after all

In our never-ending search for good turns, Good Turns hears about all manner of kindnesses, and the joy they bring to those involved, whether they’re the recipients of the good deed or the parties who carried it out. (Tell us about yours here!) But we also occasionally hear about good turns that end in a wrong turn. Once in a while, the end result of a kindness appears to be less happiness for those involved.

“I’m going to continue to try and help people and influence my family to do the same”

We say “appears to be” because, in fact, doing someone a good turn they later take advantage of is still an act of generosity. But the pain of the resulting situation may sometimes outweigh the joy of the deed itself. We recently came across five good deeds that ended less than spectacularly. Were they worth carrying out in the first place? Decide for yourself by reading the stories below:

  • Two residents of Pensacola, Florida, thought they were doing a homeless man a good deed earlier this year by taking him in for the night, only to find he’d taken it upon himself to improve on their generosity by driving off with their car in the middle of the night.
  • A Wal-Mart employee in upstate New York drew national attention two years ago after he was fired for turning in $350 he’d found in the store’s parking lot. He’d apparently turned the money in too slowly for the company’s tastes.
  • In Martha’s Vineyard, off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, landscaper Bryan Cimeno Jr. and his father had planted flowers at a local post office to honor a deceased relative, only to be ordered to stop their work earlier this month because the post office wasn’t allowed to accept gifts. As Bryan Cimeno Sr. put it, “They don’t stop people from throwing litter or putting beer bottles on the ground, but they stop us from making it beautiful?”
  • The same week, in Kaysville, Utah, public works director Joshua Belnap was taken to court by City Councilman Dave Adams after Belnap did his neighbor a favor and plowed Adams’s driveway last winter. Adams—who got himself in hot water with the city council in 2016—alleges Belnap caused $10,000 worth of damage to his property. Belnap says he was just doing a good deed.
  • In the town of North Bay, Ontario, in Canada, two cats who had apparently been abandoned were fed by good samaritans through the locked front door of the store in which they lived—despite the fact that the good samaritans ended up breaking a window in the process, to the consternation of local police.

Needless to say, we don’t think this means that anyone should hesitate to do a good turn when they see the opportunity. But it’s interesting to note that not all good turns are received in the same spirit in which they’re performed.

We take our inspiration from the Pensacola man whose car was stolen by the homeless man he’d taken in: “I’m going to continue to try and help people and influence my family to do the same,” he says. And so are we.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Kevin Dooley)

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