The old saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished." This phrase has been on my mind today because one of my students e-mailed me and asked to "reschedule" her lesson today. The contract the referral agency makes with students clearly stipulates that same-day cancellation is a loss for the student. The teacher is not obliged to reschedule or offer a make-up lesson and will be paid for the hour unless there is some sort of urgent mitigating circumstance (such as a natural disaster).
Since this student has had a variety of health issues, particular related to her "waterworks", and I'm guessing her cancellation may have something to do with that, I agreed to let her reschedule for tomorrow rather than do a straight cancel. She e-mailed me back and said she wanted to come Friday evening but I have other students and can't accommodate her at the time she wants to come. She then replied to that message demanding to know all of the free time on my schedule from morning to evening tomorrow.
Perhaps my student is poor at writing her messages and came across more bluntly than she intended to. Perhaps she is grateful and too busy to take the time to say it. Or, perhaps she's just taking advantage of my willingness to cut her some slack. The end result is that I'm wasting my time playing e-mail tag with her and what's more exhausting my patience since I'm trying to do her a favor and it's just causing me more aggravation.
As is the case with most people, this isn't the first time this has happened to me and it won't be the last. In my former job, I constantly went above and beyond the call of duty rather than simply did as I was told. If I wasn't busy, I asked if there was anyone I could help with their work rather than sit in my cubicle and do whatever I wanted (which I could have done without censure). I also used my own laptop computers for about 10 years to do my job because the company whined about being too poor to afford another Mac. They bought one for my boss. They bought one for the Japanese women who worked with us but they never bought one for me.
As time went by, I used my own Zip drive for back-ups, my own scanner for scanning work, and even my own registered versions of Adobe software because the company pleaded poverty and I wanted to be helpful as well as allow work to proceed more smoothly and quickly. Needless to say, this was never appreciated nor recognized in any fashion and none of the dedication or skill I applied to my job was recognized in my annual raises though, at least, my gaijin boss told me he appreciated what I did even though the Japanese didn't.
Being a philosophical sort of person, I wonder why it is that this type of situation is common enough to have a well-known saying attached to it. Is it that we have to get spanked for our good intentions in order to encourage us to build our characters such that we continue to perform such deeds in spite of how they are responded to? Is it that we should learn to stand up for ourselves and not be taken advantage of since going above and beyond with many people often offers us that dubious pay-off? Is it so we learn to roll with the punches and not let the lack of gratitude or recognition weigh on our overactive philosophical minds? Or, as I'm sure many less pensive or spiritually-minded people think, "things happen" and there's no meaning whatsoever to it.
I've actually grown sufficiently past my Christian upbringing not to expect any sort of reward for doing or being "good". I'm old enough to know that the best people in the world often get squat in the way of tangible rewards in life and I don't believe in heaven so I don't think there's a reward in death either. However, it'd be nice if doing good things didn't actually result in more hassle or stress. If a good deed can't be rewarded, at the very least, it shouldn't be punished.