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July 12, 2014

There once lived Kenny the Koala who was a really decent chap. He always walked around with a smile on his face and was at all times kind and considerate to everyone around him: to the old kangaroos and to the young kangaroos, to the full-grown kookaburras and to the young fledglings too. He never failed to take off his hat and say “G’day” to every animal he met, to inquire of their health and to ask them if they needed assistance with anything.

After a while, the other animals grew really suspicious of Kenny the Koala. “What could possibly be the reason for him being so nice to everyone? Surely there must be an ulterior motive there!” they would whisper to one another as Kenny merrily strolled past them on his morning walk.

And so they asked Mona the Monitor Lizard to secretly observe Kenny’s behaviour in his private life. Surely, Kenny must drop his niceness and reveal his true nature when he is home, the kangaroos, echidnas and wombats thought.

After a few weeks of around-the-clock surveillance, Mona the Monitor Lizard came back with the results: Kenny the Koala was just as kind and considerate in his private life as he was in his public life. He never raised his voice or threw tantrums or said anything in anger at home.

Still the animals were not convinced of Kenny’s goodness. And so next they came up with the brilliant idea of surreptitiously attaching a tiny mind-reading device to Kenny’s head, so that they would finally have indisputable proof of the nasty thoughts he kept hidden. The kangaroos, echidnas and wombats rubbed their paws together in glee as they impatiently awaited the results. At last they would find out what he really thought of them, what bad thoughts were going through his head even as he pretended to do good deeds. “Surely”, they said to one another, “it can not be that Kenny does not have any impure thoughts of envy, greed, vanity and hatred? Undoubtedly, he must expose his true self in what he considers to be the absolute privacy of his mind!”

Alas, the thoughts the mind-reading machine recorded were just as pure as Kenny’s actions. No angry thought ever crossed his mind; he only had affectionate views of each and every animal in the bush. The animals were flabbergasted. They had searched every nook and cranny of Kenny’s mind for just one unkind thought about someone, for just some inkling of hatred or jealousy, but none were found.

And so the animals grew angry and frustrated with Kenny the Koala for always being so nice, happy and kind. “We can’t have such a weirdo in our midst!” they proclaimed. “Something drastic has to be done, and done immediately!”

They decided to confront Kenny and to demand of him an explanation for his odd conduct. “Kenny the Koala, why are you always so nice and pure in heart?” they wanted to know. “Why are you always so happy?“

This out-of-the-blue outburst from the kangaroos, echidnas and wombats really distressed Kenny the Koala. He began to worry about not thinking badly of anyone and to feel guilty about stirring up trouble and disrupting the smooth running of the animal society with his unreasonable behaviour. He forgot about doing his good deeds and would instead spend his days obsessively searching his mind for just one mean thought about someone. And that’s how it came to be that he had a complete nervous breakdown, was declared to be raving mad and carted off to the Maximum Security Institution for the Criminally Insane Native Fauna.

And that is where Kenny the Koala remains to this very day, languishing and alone, with no visitors and no hope of ever being released.

And that’s how the expression “No good deed ever goes unpunished” originated.


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  1. Great story and writing. Thanks for explaining that saying. Laughing.

  2. This is wonderful! Aesop goes to Oz. A good lesson for all. Thanks for playing!

    • thank you Doug! So would you say you agree with the final moral of this story?

      • Reading again, this is kind of a dark ending, isn’t it? Well, I guess I do agree with “no good deed…”, in the sense that people are always trying to bring you down to their level when you are trying to stay on the high road. And the lesson is: don’t let them! That’s my take. 😉

  3. Boris, what a delight! It’s as fine an example of “folk-etymology” as I’ve ever encountered, and like all good fables it has a clear but thought-provoking moral. I see one commentator described the piece as “Aesop goes to Oz”. I couldn’t put it better.

    • thank you Mark, I appreciate you taking a look at this story and for your feedback on it.

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