Good deeds

It's probably just the tiredness talking but if a complete stranger does you a good deed, without being asked, does it take something away from them to give them a reward?

I mean, if someone does something because it's the right thing to do (and perhaps also they get to feel like a good person) and then you give them something for doing it, does it create a hidden subtext that the receiver assumes they did it for gain - even if this isn't the case?

To get a little less abstract, I took $500 out of the ATM at the Canberra mall this afternoon - or rather I asked the ATM for that money and then in the middle of the transaction it flashed up a "Can't issue receipt, do you wish to continue?" message.

I said, yeah, sure, just display the balance on the screen afterwards. Now apparently this is some kind of funky whiz-bang silent ATM because I didn't get the whoosh whoosh whoosh sound of the money being dispensed, just a display on the screen that said account balance $168.

Now I've been juggling money around between accounts in the last few days so I assumed that this was the machine telling me that I didn't have sufficient funds for that withdrawal and to go away. Not entirely sure why I thought this but there was a queue behind me and I figured that I'd just do my shopping on the other card, that I must have transferred this money to instead.

Twenty minutes later, heading away from the counter at JB Hifi, some bloke stops me and asks if I was just using the ATM. I had no idea what I had done so I said yes, waiting for enlightenment. He paused for a while - I guess he was trying to make sure that I was the right guy - and asked me if I had completed my transaction.

Suddenly the penny drops and I realise that I've just left $500 sitting in an ATM and presumably this guy has it. So I tell my story and after a few moments he opens his wallet and starts counting out the cash. (Knowing how much money it was meant to be was a help to me here I'm guessing).

I am feeling so relieved and grateful at this time that I tell him that he can keep 50, figuring that if it wasn't for him that I would be out 500 bucks having 450 is a whole lot better than that.

He asked a few times if I was sure and mentioned that he was just trying to do the right thing. Anyway, he took (and I was happy for him to have it) but now I'm wondering if that might have cheapened the moment for him a little.

Oh well.