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To wonder at expression "No good deed goes unpunished"

(31 Posts)
janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 15:38:10

I think this may be an "Americanism" - I've seen it on JudgeJudy alot anyway.

But am puzzled too. It means, basically, that if you do something good or nice, someone will always throw it back in your face and make life hard for you as a consequence! The kind of opposite of "virtue is its own reward".

Is this a very cynical expression? Or sadly accurate?

Abra1d Sat 08-Dec-12 19:51:51

An author I very vaguely know of ran a special programme whereby she, at her own expense, provided books free to state schools. The idea was to benefit children who might not otherwise have access to these books.

On Twitter she was subjected to a torrent of nasty posts because she wasn't making them available to home-educated children.

That was a very good example of receiving hassle because you try and help a specific group.

I've heard it quite a lot. I tend to think of it as applying to situations where you do someone a good turn, and they resent you for it, or impute a cynical motivation to your action.

DoIgetastickerforthat Sat 08-Dec-12 18:58:52

I always thought it meant that just because you do something kind/selfless that you can never expect that that kindness to be reciprocated or appreciated and therefore you should only give of your kindness if you are prepared/able to lose out from your good deed. It's a cautionary reminder that not everybody thinks or behaves in the same way as you.

OP, are you me? I am in a similar situation with my kids school PTA. I stepped in to 'help out' despite really not wanting to, have been dumped on constantly and now face a probable beating (not kidding) due to accusations of stealing, which although were not made by me (the accuser is actually the best friend of the accused but threw her friend under the bus to deflect from her own light- fingeredness), but will come down on me because I'm the only mug that is prepared to do the right thing. Oh well, purple has always suited me confused.

In the NE of Scotland when we get some rare good weather someone usually says "aye we'll pay for it" - meaning we will get lots of crap weather because we have had some good, it always makes me smile.

FolkElf Sat 08-Dec-12 18:31:06

It's the 285th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition. It's hard to believe Quark would spout many words of wisdom. But it's often true I've found.

YoucanringmySleighBells Sat 08-Dec-12 17:51:09

A good deed like saving someone who tries to jump from a building and you injure them. You have saved their life but the sue you anyway...

<<The Incredibles wink)

PessaryPam Sat 08-Dec-12 16:42:04

I think its like this ancient Chinese Proverb "Why do you hate me, I haven’t helped you?".

In theory, it attempts to portray how, when you help someone, it tends to be resented. Probably due to the person in need being ashamed for needing help.

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 16:30:26

Crossed post.

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 16:29:40

Yes sorry OldBag missed that post re. your DP. Some hardball necessary at times? Then again sometimes there is a bit of natural justice, I mean you're unlikely to offer a lift again, or your son's friend any further hospitality, and your son will have a more negative picture of him to boot?

(Personally, I would have still driven it home to the parents of how awful it all was ... perhaps that made no differenceshock)

They wouldn't speak to us Spoony. We know where they live but there's no way they'd pay.

DP will no longer take any of DSs friends home after nights out now. Well, I know he wouldn't leave anyone stranded but DS knows not to ask.

MrsjREwing Sat 08-Dec-12 16:25:08

You know that is so true, I never thought of it like that before.

I thought yesterday I was going to get a negative back and I got a lovely ending.

A small kindness. I was getting a napkin in Sainsbury's cafe and a small girl was straining for mustard, I asked if she wanted help and handed her some, off she went with a lovely smile. I am slow so by the time I got to my seat there she was, she came to thank me, it was so sweet, I thought she was going to give me back the mustard or ask for more help and I was dreading the having to say no as it would cause me pain to help her another time.

SpoonyFuckersWife Sat 08-Dec-12 16:22:19

Oldbag I would post the bill for the valet to that boys parents. Disgusting.

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 16:16:10

Ah lightearted, missed that important bit!

Yes agree with Marmite. Normally used lightheartedly.

For example: You're in a bit of a rush but you hold a door open for someone and ten other people walk though, none say "thank you" and one of them steps on your foot!

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 16:08:49

Yes, I'm thinking its almost like saying - yeah do something nice - but don't forget to play hardball as necessary! Difficult combination hmm

MMMarmite Sat 08-Dec-12 16:08:05

I thought it meant that once you do one favour, you get asked for more and more favours. Like if you help out with a group, suddenly they ask you to be group secretary and help out every week. I've usually heard it said in a lighthearted, resigned way.

NothingIsAsBadAsItSeems Sat 08-Dec-12 16:05:47

Well if, for example, you lend somebody your car [a frequent occurrence on Judge Judy] then there is a high probability that the car will be returned damaged, written off, not returned as apparently the person you lent the car to viewed it as you 'gifting' them the car or they sold it on. Oh and the friend never wants to reimburse you for the damage etc done to the car while in their care...

So you do a friend a favour and they throw it back in your face. Of course I could just be talking shit <Glares at exfriend and weeps at the untimely loss of my first car>

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 16:01:30

Booboo, I think the original expression is actually ironic, the opposite of getting something nice for doing something nice!

My DP says it quite a lot. He had reason to recently...

DS2 (16) went to see a band with a friend. DS phoned and asked DP if he'd pick them up. DS had said they'd make their own way home so DP hadn't expected to have to go out again that evening. He grumbled a bit but duly went to pick them up.

When he got back he was not happy. One of the boys had another friend with him who was going back to his house to spend the night. He'd been drinking but DP didn't realise (They were all 15) and the boy threw up all over the back of the car.

DP had to have the car valeted (£100.00+) despite him getting the worst of it cleaned up himself that night and the following morning. The vomit was in the door pocket, all over the back of the driver seat, on the back seat and soaking into the carpet. The smell was unbelievable!

No thanks from the parents for getting their drunk fifteen year old home safely or an offer to clean the car or pay for it. angry

MyLastDuchess Sat 08-Dec-12 16:00:22

I've generally heard it used as a way of saying, "It's a shame that such&such had to happen when you were working so hard to do something nice," if that makes sense. When I have said it/heard it said, it wasn't so much meant cynically, more, "Oh, that's bad luck, how unfair" sort of thing.

booboobeedoo Sat 08-Dec-12 15:57:46

I always thought it meant the opposite, so the good deed is "punished" with another good deed, like karma. Maybe I am a naive optimist!!

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 15:56:32

Its becoming v. popular SirBoob, though I didn't know that reason Wicked.

Fair point.

SirBoobAlot Sat 08-Dec-12 15:53:52

Its become more popular as its a song from Wicked.

Someone will always resent you for trying to help.

janelikesjam Sat 08-Dec-12 15:53:03

Here is an example (real-life example BTW).

You become chair of nursery PTA, you do alot of work in your new role, raising money etc. Then you are cornered by some deeply unpleasant mothers who (perhaps set up by someone with an axe to grind) angrily attack you for not raising enough money. This, despite you doing all you could, and them doing absolutely nano, zippo, niente!!!

It is a depressing though AmI, though I think generally believe in "positive outcome all round"

Iamsparklyknickers Sat 08-Dec-12 15:50:18

...or whether the person is deserving of your help.

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