"No good deed shall go unpunished."
I first heard that phrase from Mike Bailey, my curmudgeonly (in a classic newspaper way) former editor at The Courier News in Elgin, Ill. That's Mike's mug you see here to the right.
I know Mike didn't originate the phrase, nor did George Steinbrenner, the longtime (and often curmudgeonly) owner of the New York Yankees baseball empire, pictured below. I summon George's name because I saw the same phrase on a pillow in his office. That was in January 2001, during an impromptu Yankee Stadium tour that I was fortunate enough to receive.
In effect, the "no good deed" is a humbling reminder that even our best intentions, and best actions, can be met with derision or, befuddlingly enough, strong opposition.
But as I embark on some publicity for a client who is making a significant donation to schoolchildren, I would like to offer a new, more hopeful saying that spins off the jaded "no good deed shall go unpunished."
Here it is: "No good deed shall go unpublished."
(I realize that I'm not coining a phrase here--a check of Google turns up seven listings with that PR-tinged line, which, I should note, is about 5,000 fewer references than the more commonly expressed "unpunished" line.)