How big a reward would you give this Good Samaritan?

Let’s say that, on a snowy winter’s day, you are making an urgent but ultimately ill-thought driving expedition on a forest road. Swerving to avoid an unexpected but typically murderous deer, you wreck your car; the impact leaves you with a broken leg, among other injuries. Both your cell phone and the car’s electronics are useless, and that bastard Zeus chooses this convenient moment to escalate the snowstorm from sprinkle to blizzard.

But all is not lost. Help arrives in the nick of time in the shape of Jake, a wilderness-loving fellow who finds you and gets you out of the car and gets you to the nearest shelter: the log cabin where he lives. Jaks binds your wounds as best he can, which is actually quite skillfully, as he was a trauma surgeon before deciding to check out of city life and even now keeps medical supplies in his cabin. By the time he’s done saving you from the immediate danger of death, the snow is too deeo for anyone not named Thor to trudge through so y’all are snowbound in the cabin for a week. Jake shares his food and continues to nurse you.

At last things clear up enough for travel. You still need extensive medical caqre, so Jake wraps you as warmly as he can, puts you on a sledge, and drags you back to civilization. The nearest town has a decent hospital, and the ER docs there tell you that Jake unquestionably saved your life. Jake stays with you that first night, while awaiting the arrival of whatever loved ones you summoned to your side.

The next morning, when Jake is about to leave, he comes to say goodbye. As you were presumably not raised by wolves, you thank him and ask how you can repay him. After a moment’s hesitation, Jake says:

“Well, you don’t actually have to do anything, DoperName. You were in trouble, and the Golden Rule required me to help you. But … but the thing is, it’s been a hard winter. I found you because I was coming into town to work for this guy I know, live someplace with plumbing and a furnace through the worst of the snow. But somebody else got the job during that week we were snowbound. So…so if you want to–you don’t HAVE to–I’d appreciate it if you could maybe help me out financially. You willing to do that?”

Expressed as a function of your average monthly income, how big a reward are you willing to offer Jake?

Poll in a moment.

Can I sue him for wrongful life?

If it were a Hallmark movie, I’d give him my love which is priceless.

But realistically, I’d probably pay his rent for a few months in town, which would be about one’s month’s salary.

I voted ‘He’ll get every cent I can lay my hands on’. That’s not quite accurate, I wouldn’t base the amount on my own income, but on his needs.

This all assumes I’m not having one of those days where I’d want to sue him for a wrongful life as gigi suggested.

Okay, I realize that I am always urging Dopers to be more evil, counseling you on how to commit crimes more artfully, even sleeping mind-control nanites into your orange juice just in case I need a brainwashed assassin to murder the cast of The Good Wife , and so on, but I don’t understand this impulse.

It’s implicit in the OP that you are not crippled or horribly disfigured or so on; that would be too major a change to leave out. Jake didn’t cause your accident; Bambi did. So…


This attitude seems strange to me. Were you not both shortlisters I would be sending someone over to teach you to the virtue of gratitude?

Can you explain why I should not treat the first non-shortlisters to express this sentiment to a spanking administered by a naked DemiLovoto-model slapbot? (Channing Tatum for you, gigi.)

I’d probably ask him how much he would have stood to make from the week of work and see if I could reimburse him for that amount. But I can’t possibly give him everything I have; I suddenly have a lot of medical bills to worry about.

:: raises one brow ::

:: releases bees upon whoever is Anaamika’s whipping boy this month probably Ann Coulter ::

Interesting. So you’re saying

:: raises voice so as to be heard over Coulter’s screams ::

… so you’re saying that your life is worth only $500, say? Not to mention that you can’t reimburse him for the week he spent shivering in the woods to save your wonderful ass.

Also, you have a real 9 to 5 job. Don’t you have medical insurance?

Seriously, I need to know why you can’t sacrifice the money you and the mister have been saving up for that trip to Tenerife. Answer quickly, or Sarah Palin gets the mosquito treatment.

Financially, I think I’m in a position to simply stock his larder and purchase as many supplies as he needs or wants to make it comfortably through the winter.

None of the options fit my answer very well.

I would gladly help Jake out in many ways. For example, if the issue is a warm place to live with plumbing, I’ll make up the guest bedroom. I’ll even cook a little extra at each meal for him. I might donate some extra clothes or some camping gear I haven’t used in years. He can stay through the winter, maybe even longer if he needs that to get back on his feet.

Heck, I’m an employer myself and looking at some possible changes in staffing. I don’t know what his skills are, but if he can find something useful to do in an accounting office, I might have a job for him.

Thus, he might in-kind rewards that are substantially more than my monthly income.

But actual cash payments as a thank you for rescuing him? I really don’t have much in the way of cash, unfortunately, and with bills from my own accident, my personal financial survival is pretty unlikely.

(Unbolding mine)

Three simple words. Depression.

You count like a Smurf.

I would give him a month’s pay.

Heh. I’ve still got the key to your lair, so I’ll fix Jake up with some Rymertech, hookerbots, dessert recipes, and cash.

Suing him for wrongful life would help towards paying the medical bills.

That’s one of the things that depresses me.

Feeling blue, huh?

No it wouldn’t. “Wrongful Life” claims simply do not work that way. If someone filed such a claim on these facts, the action would be unlikely to survive a motion to dismiss.

  1. You misspelled “gold.” Which he’ll have trouble converting into cash on account of living in the woods, but I guess you could do it for him.

  2. Anything you take will be charged to your account and deducted from your consulting fees, so I don’t see how that changes your calculus.

  3. Dude obviously doesn’t have a refrigerator and probably has at best a wood stove without a thermostat; he ain’t making no souffles.

  4. He might be better off witch a comfortbot, even though the naughty bits are only decorative. Hookerbots only have sex; a comfortbot will if necessary set his broken leg, or kill a bear, or sing him to sleep as if he were the Doctor and it, the Ood.

  5. Jake’s got skills (he used to be a trauma surgeon, and built a log cabin presumably with his own hands, and so forth. Apparently his Thoreau imitation was not forced upon him; if he were on the run from the law, he’d hardly have stayed at the hospital after dropping you at the E.R. So even if you take him a stand-alone replicator and a loadf of shipstones to power them with, he probably won’t want to use them any more than he’d use a microwave.


You realize you’re being a worse person than the board’s resident soulless monster, right?

Anyway, what he’s going to pay you with? He’s living in the god! damn! woods like god! damn! Grizzly Adams. He just asked YOU for financial.

Seriously, I’m disgusted by the “Sue the pauper!” plan. Report to the lounge at 0700 tomorrow; I have scheduled you to retake basic flimflammanship.

I voted about a month’s pay, which is what I could afford right now. It really would depend on what I could afford – if I had nothing, then I couldn’t give him anything, and if I had $100 million, I would happily give him a cool million or maybe even more (depending on how many kids and other responsibilities I have).

He can have my car.

That $500 is worth a lot, if it’s all that’s left in your bank account and you still haven’t paid this month’s rent. “Sorry Jake - I will forever be indebted for all you did for me, but don’t have the financial resources to help you out without sinking my own ship.” I’d want to find some other way to help him out - maybe connect him with another job, or offer my non-financial resources for whatever his needs are.

If someone does have a stash of fun-money lying about, IMHO it would be entirely appropriate to gift it to Jake along with a handshake and a heartfelt thanks. “Jake, here’s enough money for you and a friend to enjoy a week of first-class accommodations in Tenerife.”

The guy saved my life, which is pretty profound. My wife and I have a very comfortable income with an above average nest egg because we’ve been saving like motherfucks, so I would want to give him a month of my gross income.