The cost of kindness
Published: August 3, 2012
Tags: S&K Pump & Plumbing
My heart was in the right place. The jumper cables weren’t.
So when the woman whose car was out of juice in the parking lot near my office asked whether I could help her, I grabbed the cables from my trunk, where they have been for years.
And with a sizzling pop and shower of sparks, I learned the price of a good deed: $220.35 to replace a blown-out fuse box and crisped alternator cable.
I was lucky.
Jeff Kuhn’s attempt to help someone out could cost him, or maybe his insurance company, $18,452. The president of S&K Pump & Plumbing Inc., Brookfield, in July sent a crew to a woman’s house to replace a leaky underground pipe running from her basement to the well.
The crew had to dig up the pipe, and when it was covered again, the dirt was higher than the grade in the yard. So Kuhn let the woman borrow for free the company’s soaker pipe, which hooks up to a hose.
The idea is to get the dirt wet so it settles. The woman left the water running so long that it flooded her basement.
Her insurance now is blaming Kuhn’s company for the flood damage because the soaker pipe did not come with clear instructions.
This is the same guy who once fronted money to a new employee for a car so he could get to work. The employee used the money for the car, then used the car to drive south. He landed in jail and still hasn’t driven that car back to S&K.
Kuhn could be bitter. He could be fed up with his punishment for his good deeds.
But while he might hesitate the next time someone asks him for cash to buy a car, he said, the soaker pipe, perhaps with written instructions, still is available to those who need it.
His reasoning is that it’s worth paying the price if it means giving a hand to someone who needs it.
“More good is done than harm,” he said.
That might be true. After all, somewhere around Milwaukee is a woman driving a car that I brought back to life. Her half of the experience was the ideal of a good deed.
I hope she shares Kuhn’s faith in the value of helping others.
She doesn’t need to know the price I paid or that I finally found the right place for those jumper cables: in the garbage bin behind my house.
I haven’t soured on helping others. But after the sparks flew, I replaced the jumper cables with a shot of prudence and the phone number of the nearest mechanic.
Chris Thompson is the editor of The Daily Reporter. His wife won’t let him drive her car.