No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I just came home in high dudgeon, misquoting a piece of poetry as I did so.

The poem in question is Robert Graves’ “A Traveller’s Curse After Misdirection.”  I just looked it up, and it turns out I’ve been misquoting it for years, so why stop now?  Here’s my somewhat shortened version:

 “With every step he takes

A bone should break

And be it not for variation’s sake

Now an arm and now a leg

But each and every time his neck.”

And what’s got my goat?

Here’s the back story:  Last year some time a woman here in Seattle sent me a note asking if I’d sign a book for her mother in Sacramento who’s a big fan of mine.  I suggested she order a copy of After the Fire from Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond.

She did so.  Then, when I leaned her mother was coming to visit, I suggested that we meet up at the bookstore and have a cup of coffee while I was doing the signing. So we did.  It was fun.

Later on, I heard from the activities director at an assisted living facility in West Seattle saying that the mother, my fan, had moved into their facility and would I come do an event for them.  We set 1 PM on April 30 as the time and day in question, and I arranged for Paper Boat Books in West Seattle to provide books for sale.

West Seattle is probably less than twenty miles away from where I live in Bellevue, but going there means crossing Lake Washington and negotiating three separate freeways.  But I turned on my phone, asked Siri to provide directions, and off I went.

When I arrived at the address, I was dismayed to find it was all on-street parking.  In Bellevue we have parking garages and parking lots.  Parallel parking is a trick I haven’t done in years, but I finally made it work—three blocks away from where I was supposedly supposed to be.

After picking up some quick steps along the way, I arrived at the facility only to be greeted by someone who had no idea who I was or why I would be there.  “Oh,” she said.  “You’re supposed to be at our other facility.”

It was ten to one by then.  It took two people forever to figure out the address of the other facility.  And off I went again, walking three blocks and then driving.  In the process of putting the address into my phone, they somehow had managed to turn off Siri’s voice.  The best I could do was turn whenever my Apple Watch said turn.

Eventually, and after another ordeal by parallel parking, I arrived at the second location only to be told by the receptionist that  I wasn’t scheduled for that one either.  “Who’s your contact person?” she asked.

So I looked up the applicable correspondence.  It turns there were two separate activities directors who had sent emails about the event, both of whom no longer work there.

The bad news is that if my fan still lives there, I missed her.   The good news is I got a lot of steps and practiced my parallel parking in the process of not seeing her.

I’m back home, frustrated, and more than a little annoyed, but I’ll get over it.  Eventually.

34 thoughts on “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

  1. Your blogs never fail to entertain. Thank you for them. Keep them coming and keep the books coming also.

    By the way, what happened to the books provided by Paper Boat Books? Hope there was another “good news” along with the bad.

  2. Thankfully, you didn’t break a bone with every step YOU took! What a fiasco… and what perseverance on your part.

  3. Now that’s a story. I can imagine your rushing, quick stepping, trying to get the parallel parking done, etc. And to only find out you were at the wrong place. You can’t be faulted for trying. I would have thought that even though you were not at the facility expecting you they would have hosted your event anyway. People in those facilities do not get much mental stimulation. But you tried to complete your good deed…

    • Adding to my post this morning… I forgot to mention reading in your blog about Lake Washington, crossing it, etc. From the J. P. Beaumont series I can visualize and do each time I read about it and now your real life crossing. That’s what you do for me, paint the picture for my mental journeys through your books. Thank you!

  4. Arghhhh! Fume! @#$%^&*. Great that you could at least be thankful for the number of steps you took in NOT seeing the woman, though. I suppose, seeing the activities coordinator no longer works there, you can’t contact her to find out what went wrong…

  5. Frustrating to say the least! Re: Siri being turned off- this recently happened to me and my husband, too. My suspicion is the latest update triggered it since we don’t mess with that kind of setting unless there’s a reason. Not sure why Apple would turn off Siri. Luckily it was an easy fix and our Siris are back to their normal responsiveness.

  6. April 30 was the day that I took my dogs for rattlesnake avoidance training. Which involves the dogs wearing a shock collar Then they are lead by real live rattle.snakes.and get a shock if they show.interest in them. Not at all pleasant but much better than being bitten by one. That being said,.even my dogs.had.a.better day than you did.
    The snakes have a muzzle so they can’t actually bite. And the trainer releases.the snakes.after.a.short time.

    • Never heard of such training- It does sound very stressful! However, better safe than sorry-I didn’t realize that dogs are so tempted to interact with rattlesnakes-
      Perhaps other deadly snakes as well?

      • Rattlesnakes are the only poisonous snakes in southern California. There are several.varieties. I suppose they smell similar. I live in the mountains east of San Diego. And there are plenty of rattles around here. Had one in my backyard last summer. I don’t know if dogs are particularly attracted to snakes. But if they come across one and don’t know what it is, they can stick their nose in and get bitten.

  7. I use that saying–”No good deed goes unpunished”–a lot. Learned it when I was teaching from my department head.

    Hope the woman gets in touch with you to see why you didn’t show up.

    God bless you for trying.

  8. You did marathons for a person and her facility. I am so proud of you! No one can take that away from you. Sometimes doing something special and letting go of the outcome is all that can be done. Besides you spelled parallel and parked.

  9. So very frustrating, I’m sure, and a lesson for those who might someday have the good fortune(?) to be invited to a book signing event! Moral of the story: 1) Always be prepared with poetry befitting any occasion, and 2) always wear comfortable shoes. 😉

  10. WOW! Other than that I cannot put a sentence together. Too much sputtering and harumping!
    Bless you for your patience!
    But then, I’d be doing the stepping on a hip 2 1/2 weeks from total replacement.

  11. You are such a delight. Even when things go awry you find some good/positive in it.

    Thank you for allowing us (your devoted fans) to be a part of your life. Thank you for your books. Thank you for YOU

  12. Gold Star for your efforts!

    There were a lot of dropped balls and no one managed to pick them up.

    Hope your next event has no hitches.

  13. Know the feeling. Yesterday we were looking for a place to discuss selling my LP album collection and our GPS sent us to 3 different places from Totem Lake to across the valley to the east into a high end neighborhood, back to downtown Kirkland and I finally got smart and called the guy for directions and we ended up back at Totem Lake. It was an adventure, for sure! Ha ha

  14. Even I , as a non-driver living in New York City, can appreciate the torture of trying to parallel park when you are used to driveways and parking lots!
    As one actor said in a movie in which his girlfriend from Wisconsin attempted to park in the City, “I’ll walk to the curb from here-”
    However, is there an extremely rapid turnover rate of staff at those two facilities?!
    Do they even keep track of their patients at all?
    In any case, all this effort and completely unfair confusion has turned into valuable
    fodder for entertainment! God bless you for your devotion to your fans……

  15. Don’t you just love it when you have spent so much phone time or email time with someone and then, as you go to close a matter, “They no longer work here”.

    Yes, you will get over it eventually, but for now, I can totally feel your frustration. Hopefully, you had on your walking shoes.

    Sorry this happened to you when you were trying to do something for a fan. Hope someone explained to her why you never showed up.

  16. I hope you were able to make contact to let her know you tried . What a shame that you went to all that trouble for nothing . You were being so kind to travel there too .

  17. I’ve heard it said that no good deed goes unpunished, sure seems true in this case, and high dudgeon and frustration a very understandable reaction. I’d probably be totally torked.

    I’d like to thank you, Judith, for your endorsement of Ann Hillerman. I think I’ve read everything Tony’s ever written but somehow I missed Ann. Now I have some more reading I can do while I wait for your Nov release. This helping nature of yours is one of the things that sets you apart. Recognizing other novelists, trying to accommodate fans makes you even more special.

    • I’ve read 2 of Ann Hillerman’s books and both were very good. It’s interesting to get so much information on the customs and concerns of the indigenous. Especially since my genealogy research has taken me back to 2 indigenous women. I love that I’ve found that connection. Have been interested in their spirituality and customs since I was a little girl, not knowing it was in my blood until recently at 82. I, of course, love J.A.’s books about the reservation life.

  18. I’m not impressed with management of the 2 assisted living facilities! Surely when an activities director leaves SOMEONE would be assigned to follow up on things already arranged? Makes me wonder about the management generally. Maybe a bit of feedback to the owners so they can be alert to other problems? Really rather frightening….what if the medications person departs? How about the cafeteria director?



  19. What a bummer! Speaking of the good things you gleaned from this misadventure says a lot about your character. But we all know that you’re a dear!

  20. And you are still sane? Geez Louise.

    Your story reminded me of an uncle’s funeral several years ago. My sister told me the church, but she wasn’t going and I should Google for it. I got there early, as usual, and sat and sat looking for people to arrive. That wasn’t happening. Noticed there was a house with people coming and going, next to the church. So I went in and inquired, they were connected with the church. Turns out the church I needed was across town. It worked out OK. There was a priest sitting there in a chair waiting. He was supposed to officiate the funeral and found out that he was also in the wrong spot when he heard me ask. He had walked there. I gave him a ride over knowing I would not be late, they couldn’t start without him.

  21. Judith what a bummer. I understand the effort to get from the east-side to Seattle, as I live in Kirkland. Also parallel parking haven’t done that in years. It is too bad you at least couldn’t have seen your fan. I’m sure she is as sad as you are frustrated.
    You made a great effort and you should have be applauded for it.
    I enjoy your books and hope to see you at Third place book store for a reading soon.
    Long time fan,

  22. I recently saw a book on Amazon that had your name on it, so I automatically bought it. It was “Bark M for Murder”… Your story was the “case of the London Cabbie.” Two things made me want to share
    1) There is a sentence about not remembering things before the age of 3. I was almost 3 when my baby sister was born. I remember sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table eating “mush” as we called it then. My Dad came in and told me I had a baby sister. I kept splashing my spoon in the cereal saying “I wanted a baby brother” over and over. Eventually I did get that baby brother and he has always been special. 2) The name Genevieve is my youngest granddaughter’s name. My daughter didn’t want her called by the trendy “Jenny” or “Jen.” So I suggested Vievy, Now at 25 she goes by Vieve within the family, but in high school her friends called her Gen. She’s in NY now so probably goes by her full given name!

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