When A Good Intention Turns Into An Epic Fail

When A Good Intention Turns Into An Epic Fail

Remember when I talked about getting roped in to teaching English?

After a rocky start of missed classes and communication problems, things started smoothing out. In spite of myself, I loved giving the classes, and the students were excited about learning.

When the kids’ parents and I finally got around to talking about payment, I made a proposition that didn’t involve money. At the beginning of this year, I set a goal to do some type of volunteer work. My genius idea was to give English lessons, and instead of receiving cash, they would do something nice for someone else. I let them choose, and said it could be anything from buying lunch for a homeless guy to donating old clothes to a children’s shelter.

The weeks passed by, and the family still hadn’t held up their end of the bargain. Finally, I marched across the street to give them a stern talking to and reiterate that the English classes are not free, and that I would stop teaching if they didn’t pay me in good deeds.

Kindness via coercion…  nice.

Last week, the neighbors called me over and introduced me to a young boy of about eight years old. He had a growth over his retina and couldn’t see, so he and his brother were going around the neighborhood asking for money. The father of the two kids I teach told me that this would be their good deed. They would get in touch with the mother and find out how much the surgery costs and ask for donations from everyone they knew and do what they can to help this family.

I was so overwhelmed and happy, I almost cried.

A week passed, and I heard nothing. This morning, I went to pick up the kids for class and the dad tells me that the mother of the blind child is in fact exploiting them, and she’s really not interested in the surgery because a child that can see would earn much less than a child who is blind. If her child could see, she might have to get a job.


Not only was I presented with this disappointing news, but was then informed that there wouldn’t be a class this morning because one of the brothers didn’t show up. They gave me no kind of advanced notice, and this is the third time they’ve canceled class with no warning.


I feel taken advantage of. I feel jaded. And I’m really pissed off that such disrespect is being shown for my time, especially since I’m giving them classes because they asked me to.

My dad said that I should charge for the classes because people value what they pay for more than things that are given away for free. I see that now.

Maybe I should have charged a nominal fee and used the cash to help others? Maybe the idea was completely unrealistic to begin with? It’s possible I’ve watched Pay It Forward a few too many times.

At this point, I’m unsure if I should just cancel the classes altogether, or stick it out and hope that they start respecting my time. But probably not.

What do you think? Have you been in a similar situation? What did you do?

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