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The Danger of Being Known As The Guy. . .

August 30, 2022

“I don’t want to be known as the guy who can get stuff out of the database.”
– Wally

It’s said that no good deed goes unpunished. It sounds like one of those “backward” sayings where the real meaning is exposed in what sounds like the opposite meaning. That’s not what this is. It means just that. If you do good things you are likely to be punished for it.

Keep that in mind if you are thinking of doing something nice.

One of my favorite old movies is a Paul Newman movie called “Absence of Malice.” The Paul Newman character makes an anonymous $10,000 donation to a politician’s campaign. Later, when the prosecutor is trying to prove corruption, he asks the Newman character,

“Why did you make the donation anonymously?”

Newman’s response is a perfect.

“Because I wanted to remain ANONYMOUS!”

He goes on to say he didn’t want people hounding him for money. The ironic part of the scene is that he knew the prosecutor was watching and would find out he’d made the donation. Newman wasn’t crooked, but the politician was. The point is that if you are known for giving people money (a good deed,) more people will ask you for money (the punishment.)

But, if you are okay with the punishment, then it sometimes works out.

A couple of months ago I helped fix my daughter’s friend’s car. This young lady was newly married. And her dad and I had been friends years earlier. My daughter asked me if it would be okay if she told her friend I would help replace her starter. (A good deed.) Naturally, I said yes. People who know about cars have been very generous to me over the years. The least I can do is pay it forward.

She needed a new starter installed. That’s not a tough job to do. I loaded up my tools, drove to her work parking lot where the car was stuck and had it replaced in about an hour. In doing so, I became the guy who knows how to get stuff out of the database.

She reached out to me yesterday. Her car wouldn’t start. She was grocery shopping and it just quit on her. She wanted to know if I had any suggestions. (The punishment.)

I like to work on cars, but I have a fear. Maybe it’s an irrational fear. But, I fear I won’t be able to fix it. Or, I’ll make it worse. Or, what if I do it wrong and it causes a safety issue? These fears are largely unfounded. Sure, there have been things I couldn’t fix. But, I’m good enough to not make things worse.

I gave my daughter’s friend some suggestions. I suspected it could be a bad battery or a bad alternator. I told her how to check for either one. And suggested she get it tested. The car did manage to start after sitting for several hours. That’s a possible sign of a bad battery.

Today she told me that they tested the battery and it showed 10 volts. It should be showing 12.2. And then, she had the alternator tested and that checked out fine. I gave her some advice on getting a new battery. Personally I always get one with a three year warranty. I’ve had two of them go bad in the second year. I saved the original receipt and just like that I got a new $200 battery with a new three year warranty.

I don’t think she’ll have me install the battery. Getting to my house and matching up schedules would be a bit of work. But, she will confidently go somewhere and get the battery replaced without worrying that either she’s being taken advantage of, or she’s replacing the wrong part.

Yeah, I don’t really mind being known as the guy who knows how to get stuff out of the database.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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