“You’re shooting a lot better these days Fred! Guess that surgery you had last month really improved your game. You almost beat me this time.” Charlie had no shame in joking around with his friend, who was highly competitive and could take a good ribbing. Fred could also dish it back. “You just wait until the nerve is fully repaired, and you won’t be gloating so loudly anymore!”Thursday nights were becoming Charlie’s favourite part of the week. He and his friends would gather to play pool, and he was now organizing mini tournaments. Participation was growing and it was nice to meet more of his neighbours. Charlie always stayed behind to clean up, taking pride in the little “club” he had created.
“Are you going to throw out all those pop cans?” Doris asked as she poked her head in from the hallway. “Uh, we normally take these down to recycling. Why do you ask?” Charlie replied. “Well,” Doris began to explain hesitantly, “I’m struggling a bit this month with expenses. After rent and everything else, I don’t have much left over for the month. The twins’ birthday is next week and I wanted to get them something. I’ve been invited to the party and it would be embarrassing to have my daughter have to cover again for me this year. I’ve been collecting the pop cans and bottles and taking them to the depot. I was just wondering if I could take these ones in for you.”
Charlie could see that Doris was embarrassed. “I don’t see why not. Sure, feel free to bag these up.” Doris took out a folded up garbage bag from her pocket and started collecting all the empty containers. “Thank you Charlie,” Doris said with a smile.
Charlie was throwing out the other items and wiping down the tables, when Fred came in to grab the sweater he had accidentally left behind. “Um, what’s Doris doing?” Fred asked Charlie in a whispered hush. “Oh, Doris is just taking our empties in for us. She’s collecting the money for a present for her great grand kids.” Fred looked worried. “Charlie, we have a recycling program here. All the containers go down to the designated bins.” Charlie waved his hand. “I know that, but if she wants to take them, what’s the harm in that? Saves me making a trip down to the basement.” Fred shook his head. “The money collected from the bottles goes back into our social committee. We decided this months ago at a resident council meeting. We can’t just have people collecting bottles from all the social activities and using the money for their own purposes.” This was news to Charlie. “I just opened a huge can of worms, didn’t I?” Fred sighed. “I won’t say anything, but if people find out what she’s doing, there’s going to be complaints to management. And you’ll be on your own then.”
Charlie felt a lump in his throat. He didn’t like when being the ‘nice guy’ got him into trouble.
Good intentions can sometimes overstep policies in congregate living settings. It’s a fine line between simple acts of kindness and actions that could have bigger consequences when fairness comes into question.
Do you think Charlie did the right thing? If you knew a policy was in place like this, what would you have done? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share below.