Good intentions sometimes frowned upon

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The benefits of doing something good and having no one notice what you’ve done can be a difficult lesson, one to learn over and over again.

Doing something honorable, good or gentle, and being punished for it? That’s awful. It sometimes succeeds in making national or international news, for whatever that is worth. Even when laws or policies are in place for good reasons and, consequently, should be upheld, it doesn’t seem right in a collection of stories from the last couple of days.

In Seattle last week, Jim Nicholson was doing his job as a teller at Key Bank, when a thin man wearing a beanie, dark clothes and sunglasses tried to rob the bank.


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Nicholson lunged at the robber, chased him from the bank and ran after him for several blocks before he and a pedestrian knocked him down and kept him until the police arrived. This was on Tuesday. On Thursday, Nicholson was fired by Key Bank for violating the bank’s policies about what employees must do during a robbery.

In Fairfax County on Monday, 60-year-old Jozsef Vamosi was in court for a jaywalking ticket he received when he played crossing guard for 11 Canadian geese on the Fairfax County Parkway on mid-morning of June 18.

Vamosi stopped his vehicle, got out, and ushered three adult and eight small geese across the northbound lanes he was traveling on, as well as the southbound lanes, stopping traffic, dangerously.

On Monday, a judge said he’d dismiss the ticket and all fines except for court costs, if Vamosi isn’t ticketed again for six months.

Sure, it’s more dangerous to cause an accident by swerving to miss cute little Thumper in the middle of the road, so Vamosi arguably deserves what he gets. Same for Nicholson in Seattle. His quick, perhaps reckless, thought could’ve ignited a bigger, more violent problem. Those are the practical reasons the rules and laws are on the books.

Here’s a story there’s no excuse for. In Britain, 32-year-old Terrie Rouse was charged an extra $173 for spending 10 minutes too long at the coffin of her five-week-old son.

The baby, Zane, died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on April 9. The family waited three months to have the funeral so tests could be done on the baby.

“The vicar had asked if I would like to spend a bit more time saying goodbye,” said Rouse. “I sat by the coffin for 10 minutes, telling my son how much we loved him and begging him not to be scared.”

The crematorium charged Rouse because she ran past the 30-minute slot given per funeral.