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The one where Geoff does a good deed

MemoryA strange-and-spooky coincidence moment occured to me yesterday.

After work, I did the nice thing of popping round in person to someones house to add some memory into their laptop. Now when I say ‘someone’ it was actually the editor of the Entertainment section here at work – they’d asked my boss “If they knew anyone that would be kind enough to do that”, and as he knows that I’m nice enough to do that sort of thing, I found myself volunteering to pop round to their house in person to do it, as it was only 5 minutes up the road and would just be a slight detour on my way home.

The job itself was a cinch – turn up, sit down, cup of tea, install memory, test, works, finish tea, polite chat, scoot home. Sorted. Aren’t I nice? Or am I … ?

I’d mentioned during the day to one of my mates that I was going to do this, and he questioned my motives for doing it, saying that I was only doing it hoping that I was going to get some favour in return at somepoint (I dunno… I suppose the entertainment people must get some perks, right?) and that there was no such thing as a selfless good deed.

Friends LogoAnd so then I got home and over (yet another) cup of tea, flicked through my Tivo and found that it had recorded recently the episode of ‘Friends’ where Phoebe argues with Joey about the fact that it’s impossible to truly do a selfless good deed (The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS).

So this left me questioning my own morales/scruples. Did I help out because I thought it might stand be in good ground in the future? Or was I just genuinely trying to be nice? Have you ever done random acts of kindless – and if so what! And afterwards have you realised that there really was an ulterior motive to it all? I’d like to know …

I’ll just chuck in another couple of examples:

Couple of weeks ago at the tea bar at work, the guy in front of me was about 80p short for what he was buying – so I just gave him �1 to help him finish his transaction. I refused to give him my name or number (despite his protestations) so that he could pay me back, and I had to run down the corridor quickly to stop him from hounding me, shouting back “Do a good deed to someone else yourself .. pass it on!” before he went away.

A guy that had had his credit card ‘swallowed’ by the ticket machine at the train station the other day didn’t want to leave it unattended (in case his card ‘popped out’ again) to go and tell the staff, so I went and got a member of staff for him. He was eternally grateful, but I was like “Well it’s no problem.. don’t worry about it”. Am I naive in thinking that if we all just did nice random things to people all the time that the world would be a better place? Like I say – comment away …

Incidentally, today is Thanksgiving in the USA. Normally of course, I wouldn’t be that fussed or even know that, but then things are no longer normal, are they? 🙂

30 responses to “The one where Geoff does a good deed”

  1. Jono says:

    I seem to perform technical support and HTML duties for all your bizarre sites without wanting anything back from it.

    Actually, that’s not true. I do it for the practice.

  2. Jono says:

    Speaking of which, you’ve screwed up the sidebar, mate. The bottom of it is missing.

  3. kate says:

    earlier this week it said “Why Geofftech? The name comes from a basta” and that was it…

    however going back on topic, it’s good that people do random make-happy things. but surely isn’t blogging about them contravening the doing a good thing that’s completely selfless? Because then people can pat you on the back and go “well that was nice of you to do that deed” – which renders it non-selfless, cos you’ve just got something good back!

  4. Matt says:

    I think that you should treat people as you hope to be treated – and what goes around does indeed come around (or I like to think that it does)

    When travelling in New Zealand many years back I experienced great kindness from many people – whether it be lifts, accomodation or food. They wanted nothing back other than to chat and I was happy to oblige – I now hope that any ‘random acts of kindness’ that I may undertake keep the good karma going!

  5. geofftech says:

    Jono – you did it for the nice bottle of whisky that I got you! Oh, and because you love it really. Sidebar amended – ta. Will fix it properly later.

    There is that “Aren’t I great because I’ve done something nice, so i’m going to tell you all about it”, element – but that wasn’t what i was getting at. I just wanted to know what other random good deeds have done. Come on, big yourself up and we’ll all give you a pat on the back.

  6. Jon. Justice says:

    You did it because you wanted to. There’s no need to complicate it by endlessly philosophising about what your motivation might have been. “Do or do not, there is no such thing as a selfless act” as Yoda almost said.

  7. zuzula says:

    I try to be nice too… but there’s nothing wrong with getting something out of it as an unexpected bonus!

    Walking down by the Oxo Tower one very icy december eve I found a guy who had obviously got a bit carried away at his office xmas party and had passed out on a wall by the river after vomming. it was bloody freezing so I woke him up, got him some water from a restaurant, walked him to the next bridge and convinced a cabbie to take him home.

    Then I asked him whether he had any money (to pay for the cab) and he got a bit paranoid that i was after his wallet. so I gave him a business card, purely to reassure him that I was who I said I was and I hadn’t stolen anything.

    The next day a huge box of chocolates arrived for me at work. There was no email address or number, just a note from the guy to say thanks for getting him home. I honestly never expected anything but i was very touched 🙂

  8. Fimb says:

    I’ve learnt that if you do anything expecting returns, it will come back and spit in your face.

    And then, if you do them simply from the kindness of your heart, people will quickly learn and before you know it, you’re being taken advantage of left, right and centre..

    Yes, just call me bitter today

  9. Ian says:

    I often sit around thinking about doing kind things, but I think too much, and the moment has gone.

  10. Jono says:

    The Whisky was — and is — lovely, thank you. But I didn’t expect it.

    To be honest, it still winds me up that the rest of this site and all of BOTSD aren’t done in proper XHTML and CSS. I mean, whatever would happen if an accessibility consultant were to read this site and see the quality of the HTML?

    And you still didn’t quite fix the sidebar properly. I’ve done it for you.

  11. Well, I performed one act of kindness today and I am reaping the benefits already (kinda) …

  12. geofftech says:

    Paul… which was? Do tell…

  13. ah ha … read my blog later … A clue to keep you going … we now have something in common, that we didn’t when we met!

  14. ian says:

    Paul: Sleeping with Geoff’s ex is not a good deed, per se. 🙂

  15. John says:

    Been reading this blog a while now but no longer have one myself. Started reading cos Google brought the site up for a fix for an error on my iPod 3g.

    Anyway my point is I can’t see so tend to rely on favours and probably get more help than I give out but I’m well aware that things tend to come back round in the end in one form or other.

    BTW I noticed accessibility mentioned above and the site seems perfectly accessible from mine and a Jaws screen reader point of you.

  16. Teg says:

    This will shock you, never seen an episode of Friends in my life.

  17. geofftech says:


    /never/ !

    That’s ok. I never got into:


    or a whole load of other US imports which I know others swear by, but ‘Friends’ I can watch repeatedly, and it still makes me laugh everytime.

  18. Anthony says:

    Today, as a complete aside, I saw something that really haunted me. These things are supposed to, but my heart of stone usually manages to brush them aside and say “No, such cynical methods do not affect me”, but this one did.

    It was a bicycle, painted entirely white, on a quiet street corner near TCR. It was the middle of the night, hence dark, and there were few people around.

    I thought, “oh, look, a bicycle”, and then I noticed the sign saying ” A cyclist was struck here”. I don’t know if that means they died, and I don’t cycle in London* so that’s not the reason that it affects me, but I thought it was very, very effective.

    It wasn’t just the setting or the fact that it was a white bike; even the shape of the bike itself was eerie.

    The moral of this story is that I should write a blog.

    *because I don’t want to die at the hands of some ignorant motorist, thanks, and that’s also the reason why I actually look when crossing the road and try not to be too arrogant, which incidentally is one of the reasons why I haven’t broken any bones or been hit by a car, although I did cycle straight into one once, so it all comes full circle!

  19. Mikey says:

    being a massive friends fan, it saddens me when people say they have never seen it. i also thought exactly of that episode before u even mentioned it.

    Friends Rocks!!

    Please let there be a reunion…

  20. WiRED says:

    Completely unrelated but eh… this is so geoff i had to share it!

  21. Alan Perks says:

    WiRED, have you been living in a box for a while? How long ago did you blog this Geoff?

  22. geofftech says:

    Er… not only did I blog it ages ago, but it’s available to download from my site as well! Here:

  23. Geoff's Mum (Tina) says:

    As I said before, Geoff is probably doing his ‘Good Deed’
    every day because he was in the Cubs and Scouts,
    and he can’t get out of the habit. It could be because
    of his wonderful parents of course!

  24. pixeldiva says:

    I’d imagine that any accessibility consultant that might be reading would be doing so for fun, not for work, and so wouldn’t actually be looking at the code (even accessibility consultants need to have fun, after all).

    … and also, since the site itself isn’t actually hideously, eye-gougingly, can’t-go-on-without-saying-something inaccessible, then said accessibility consultant probably takes the pragmatic view that it doesn’t need to be an outstanding example of best practice in a blog template because it’s a personal site and the site is probably as accessible as the current owner/person who put it together could make it without going to excessive effort, and such, is actually fine.

    Lastly, any accessibility consultant would know that top-quality code does not always make a site more accessible than shit code, and vice versa.

  25. CV says:

    I don’t read this often enough so, despite being comment #26 is actually referring to the blog entry rather than another comment! I think it is true that there is no such thing as a truly selfless act, but it is entirely possible to do a good deed without thought of a payback of some sort. It can simply be very rewarding and fulfilling to have done the good deed in the first place – not through a self-righteous feeling of having helped someone (especially if they couldn’t do it themselves) but simply because the act itself was enjoyable. Geoff went to a colleagues house to help them with a PC upgrade – something he’s competent and skilled at and, since he makes it his career and a good part of his hobby, probably enjoys! The experience of doing it is the payback. For a more obvious example, think of the reasons people give their time to charities or go on VSO (voluntary service overseas) trips. A bit of it is wanting to help, but I think a much larger part is because the actual work is enjoyable. As for helping someone out who was short of change – there’s probably no payback of any sort there, but I don’t agree with the person who said that it leads to being taken advantage of. I think it is the fear of being taken advantage of that stops most people from doing things like that in the first place but that it’s a largely imagined fear. Without it, the majority of us would behave that way.

    By the way, how was thanksgiving?

  26. Ian says:

    Never mind thanksgiving… where is Geoff?

  27. geofftech says:

    Still here!

    You missin’ me then Ian? You big softie…

  28. anonymous says:

    ahh c’mon, what’s goin’ on with Geoff and Ian lately? Seems very sweet. Next thing you know they will be on each other’s blog rolls.

  29. geofftech says:

    Ian used to me on mine, but I took him down.

    We had a lovers tiff.

    And I know exactly who are you oh anonymous #29 !

  30. […] Who hasn’t been selfish all there life? I honestly don’t think that there is even a selfless good deed anymore, because no matter what you do it always seems to benefit you in someway. […]

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