Golden deeds are precious and unexpected gifts that come infrequently for some, and never for others.
But for golden-deed-doers, often intensely private people, who shy away from attention and praise, the payback is in the good, not in the public attention it gets.
Hence the deeds of do-gooders remain mostly unreported even though their impact on others and the positive energy they generate is transformative and uplifting.
Perhaps one of the most popular eulogies of good-doing as a way of life is expressed in a 1918 hymn called “Each Day I’ll Do a Golden Deed.” In it, the author, William M. Golden, sums up it up like this:
“While going down life’s weary road,
“I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load.”
Intended as a metaphor for life’s arduous challenges, and what a helping hand can do to lighten them, these lyrics apply, literally — and also metaphorically — to a story that took place over the weekend on a country road.
In a nutshell, a stranger helped a stranger and the good deed was not forgotten, even though it may have remained quiet had it not been for the gratitude of the recipient and her desire to share it with friends.
It happened to Kourtney Harris, an Army veteran with two deployments in Iraq, who is studying social work at Wartburg College.
She was on her way to a baby shower in Clarksville on Sunday afternoon, and just as she turned from U.S. Highway 218 onto County Road C-33, she realised her rear tire had gone flat.
Changing a tire is not a problem for Kourtney as her service in the military had taught her a lot of valuable skills, but she did not have the right tools.
So she did what most stranded drivers would do — texted her friend to alert her that she would be late for the party and then just as she was about to call for roadside assistance, a do-gooder stepped in.
The man, a complete stranger, offered to help. He said his name was Todd and he was returning from Home Depot as he was working on a house expansion project in Clarksville, where he lived.
He didn’t have the right tools either to take care of the tire, he said, but he would go home, get what he needed and fix the problem.
He even offered to take Kourtney to the baby shower and thanked her for her service. When they arrived, Kourtney was only 15 minutes late, much to her relief.
Kourtney gave the man her Jeep keys, and trusted he would deliver, so she was able to enjoy the baby shower celebration.
Meanwhile, the tire was fixed and Kourtney even got a ride back to her Jeep afterwards.
Before they parted ways on Sunday, Kourtney thanked Todd for his unexpected good deed, but the more she thought about the serendipity of running into a helper, the more curious she became about who the man was.
She had decided she might send him a gift card in the mail as a token of appreciation.
“Anyone know a guy named Todd that lives in Clarksville?” she asked in a Facebook post.
Turns out a lot of people do.
Following up on that feel good neighborly story, this writer learned that Todd Fails is the mayor of Clarksville.
It so happens that the neighborly gesture he extended to the stranded motorist on Sunday afternoon is not the exception, but rather the way he lives his life.
Brenda Fails, Todd’s wife, told Waverly Newspapers, that she was not surprised that her husband had pulled over and helped a stranger on an afternoon when he was very busy with the ongoing home-improvement project.
“That’s him,” she said. “He never really questions it, he stops and helps. If someone is in need, he is there. He’s that type of guy.”
She said her husband got back from the store on Sunday, grabbed his tools, and returned to the Jeep to change the tire as if this was something routine.
Brenda, who is a nurse, understands that helping others is a value instilled at an early age in her husband by his parents, Beverly and James Fails, of Shell Rock.
“He’s always got a plateful,” she said. “He can never sit down, he’s always busy.”
Todd, who works as a maintenance and security supervisor at the Charles City hospital, took over the mayoral gavel a year ago, when then mayor Kenny Smith stepped down.
Todd had earned the trust of his fellow council members, so they voted to put him in that role.
It is well known around town that in the winter, Todd lends a helping hand to those in need.
In 2016, when the town suffered a heavy flood, Todd helped his neighbors around town clean up, then took on an advocacy role in ensuring that the town acquired HESCO barriers which can be deployed in future disasters.
In the summer, he steps in to mow lawns and help in ways he can without any expectation of gratitude or recognition.
But Kourtney, whose interest in pursuing a degree in social work has emerged as a direct result of understanding the needs of veterans and seeing the need for helping others through positivity, thought good deeds like Todd’s should not be taken for granted.
Instead, they need to be spotlighted, acknowledged and integrated into our lives as a positive force that counteracts negativity.
Like Kourtney, this writer thought that a story about “a guy named Todd from Clarksville,” would be a fitting gesture and would further the message of goodness and magnify it for the record.
“I wanted to acknowledge his good deed,” Kourtney said. “I think he’s just a good dude, and he saw someone broken down on the side of the road and just wanted to help. He went above and beyond.”