Kindness Found in Bathrooms and Backseats

There are certain conversations I’m sure God never intended us to have with each other. Like in high school, when my poor dad seemed to pale a little every time I asked him for money for bras or tampons. That’s just not a comfortable conversation.

Single dads are raising daughters, and single moms are stepping up to coach their sons’ baseball teams. I’m not saying it’s wrong or that we’re not equipped because of gender, I’m just saying the lines get a little blurry when we hold them up to past standards like June and Ward Cleaver.

The world we live in is confusing, isn’t it?

You know where it gets really messy? The bathroom.

I write about kindness, so I’m not going to weigh in on any transgender bathroom issues. That’s not where I’m going. Instead, I’m talking about kids who need to use the bathroom and the parents who have to wait outside.

Traveling alone with my sons is terrifying. I stand anxiously outside busy men’s airport bathrooms praying there is only one exit. On more than one occasion, when things have been taking a little longer than normal, my mama bear instincts have kicked in. Yes, I’ve been that woman, closing my eyes and stepping just one toe into the men’s room so I could holler at my kids. Relief like none other fills my heart as I hear their voices and my panic recedes.

I’ve been on the other end of that situation more times than I can count. I step out of the ladies’ room and straight into the path of a fidgety father, who sheepishly asks if I would go back in and check on his daughter. I know the feeling, so I’m always happy to help.

Carolyn Erickson from Amidon, N.D., sent me a letter about her own bathroom kindness. Sure, she wasn’t dealing with a child, but she did step up with a solution when it mattered most for the person in front of her.

“I was eating at Applebee’s in Dickinson when I excused myself to use the bathroom. I noticed the cleaning crew was working in the men’s room with the door propped open. As I was leaving the ladies’ room, a young man, perhaps in his 20s, realized he was unable to get into the men’s restroom. I told him, ‘There are no women in the ladies’ room. Why don’t you let Grandma guard the door while you use it?’

“When he came out, looking much relieved with a big smile on his face, he said, ‘I love you, Grandma!’

“I made his day, and he made mine!”

Carolyn’s kindness isn’t reserved for the restroom. She also mentioned in her letter that she and her husband feel an “empty back seat in our vehicle doesn’t make much sense,” so they offer rides to people who need to make a trip to the bank, pharmacy or grocery store.

What a great way to get to know people. I bet having new friends in the car opens the door for a lot of conversations that God is not only happy we’re having, but actually divinely appointed.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

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