If you're like me, you're just a super nice guy who is always willing to help. And if you're like me and in America, you may believe there's an awful lot of truth in that old axiom: "No good deed goes unpunished."
Now, I don't quite believe that. Clearly, one or two out of every hundred good deeds actually goes unpunished -- probably because Americans have gotten so lazy that they don't even have the energy to punish folks for no good reason.
You've probably been punished for a few good deeds in your time. Perhaps you gave five bucks to a fellow on the street who said he just needed enough for a Greyhound bus home (a popular one in Columbus) and saw him walk into a liquor store a few moments later. Maybe you donated to a legitimate-sounding cancer or veterans charity only to find out it's one of the many that pocket virtually all the money. Or maybe you gave money to your church thinking it would go to help people and found out it instead paid for some expensive artwork that would make Jesus want to vomit.
But I'm not talking about those kinds of punished good deeds. Those are biggies. Those are the ones that really haunt you. No, I'm talking about something much smaller and perhaps petty but still quite aggravating.
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You've been in this spot: You're driving through a shopping center or store parking lot, and stop to allow a pedestrian going in or out of the store to cross in front of you. How do they respond? By actually slow
ing down to hammer home the point that this is their world and you're just passing through it. Sometimes they slow their walk even more by checking their text messages or lighting up a cigarette (a cigarette that these kinds of selfish people will no doubt discard soon on a street or sidewalk).
I'm not saying these folks need to sprint across, but it would be reasonable for them to do what I -- and hopefully you, too -- do. When I'm the person crossing and folks stop for me, I give a little "thank you" wave and pick up the pace a little, maybe even lightly jog out of their way. I would never go slower, although I did once stop in the crosswalk of First Avenue downtown when my fist accidentally put a dent in the hood of a car whose driver nudged into the crosswalk as I was crossing under the "walk" sign with my son. Oopsies.
I've got a theory about these rude folks. I think these slower-downers in the parking lot are the speeder-uppers on the highway. You know these folks. You're stuck behind them as they're going 50 mph on a two-lane highway, and when you try pass them, they speed up 10 or even 15 mph. I appreciate that maybe they crave attention in the same way that folks blare radios from their cars because their mommies didn't love them enough and they need to be noticed, but I wish they'd get that attention in a way that doesn't increase the odds of my crashing head-first into an 18-wheeler coming the opposite way.
Yet, I still let folks cross in front of me. I still hold the door for those mopers who slow down and don't bother to say "thank you." I still say "excuse me" when my buggy nearly collides with another at the grocery store even when the other person obviously was the one not paying attention.
But, don't worry, selfish folks: I'll still let you cross in front of me and still hold the door for you. I won't stoop to your level. I'll take the high road even if I never get to pass you on it.
-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting.