I’d like to bring Your attention to an issue I call Good-Deed Fail. Good deeds are obviously nice and important and all that, so I’m sure You want to encourage us to do them. Therefore, I feel like You oughta be doing Your part to make sure those good deeds go smoothly.
This does not appear to match my experience.
Take the Bird Food Incident, for example. I’m unburying my laundry room counter, sifting through piles of mittens, rags, and half-empty detergent bottles, when I discover my long lost bag of birdseed. Surely I ought to feed the birds this very moment. They’ve missed out on my offerings all winter.
So I slog out to my backyard still mushy from the spring thaw, and pour a long row of seed along our flat, wide fence cap. Do I complain about my wet feet and how much I hate that? No. I focus on my feathered friends’ needs.
I can’t wait to watch cardinals, juncos, sparrows, robins, blue jays, and other cute, winged things I don’t know the names of come partake of my feast. I hurry inside and dig out my bird book in case something really cool shows up.
Something does show up.
Big. Fat. Squirrels.
Why would I want to waste my time and money—seeds ain’t cheap, You know—feeding a bunch of belly-dragging rodents? I mean, if they’re scrawny, I guess I’m okay with that. But these guys need Weight Watchers intervention.
So what do those porkers do? They shove grub into their mouths while I stand by the window plotting what I would do if I had a shotgun. Which I don’t.
Then Henry, the periodically insane dog You’ve seen fit to give me, senses quarry. A little grin creases my face. You’ve provided the perfect solution to the pilfering troublemakers.
I release my secret weapon.
Why, oh why don’t I consider the consequences of Henry’s paws pounding along a large stretch of muddy, spongy sod?
He splatters to the fence and terrifies those creeping critters halfway to cardiac arrest. They disappear up the nearest tree without snatching a seed for the road. But my dog can pack a huge wad of gunk under his toenails and between his toes, to say nothing of his mud-mottled coat.
God, couldn’t You have made it a dry, sunny day when I noticed the birdseed bag?
I stand out on the patio, hunched over my hound, and clean grime from his limbs for what seems like six or seven hours. Then I shoo him into the house before he can plow up the entire septic field.
Five minutes later, those rotten rodents shimmy up the fence for another round of the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Henry smashes his nose to the window—another smear I’ll need to wipe up—and cries to go out.
And jumps up and down like a maniac.
I can cope with my psychotic yoyo only so long before I have to let him loose. He thunders through the mire like a herd of race horses at the Kentucky Derby.
The squirrels—instincts fully functional despite their gorged bellies—skitter to safety. God, how ever did You make four-legged balloons so nimble?
Once they depart, Henry wants to come inside. Which means I have to wipe him down. Again.
And five minutes later? A repeat performance.
Let me be clear about my complaint. I put a bunch of food out, trying to be nice, which merely lures prey that torments my dog’s predictor instinct (which You gave him, I might add). He, in turn, plagues me until I let him loose to traumatize said prey, thus dooming me to another round of Clean-the-Doggie.
So glad I’ve been generous and poured birdseed for a good thirty feet along the fence. Wouldn’t want to spend anything less than all stinking day dealing with my Good-Deed Fail.
What will I do if Henry manages to get his teeth on one of these idiot squirrels? Pray he gets a sudden urge to go vegan?
God, I don’t understand the futility of this endeavor. I mean, okay, a few birds are getting some seeds out of this, between skirmishes of The Battle of the Royally Bulged. But what kind of return on my investment is that? If You want me to do good deeds, I really think they ought to turn out better than this.
In fact, I have some suggestions for You for the next time I try to do something nice.
- Please make all good deeds error free, embodying sound intellectual design, so as to always produce observable benefit.
- Please make all good deeds efficient, so the benefit clearly surpasses the amount of effort.
- Please make all good deeds require little effort. This will make the huge benefit stand out even more.
Thank You for Your attention to this matter. I look forward to serving You soon.
Ara Gant, one of Erin’s not-so-very-holy inner voices
Click to tweet: Ever experience Good-Deed Fail?
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