I was speaking at an event recently when a woman raised her hand and asked me, “Have you found that kindness truly is contagious?”
What a great question. The answer I gave her was a resounding “Yes!” but I struggled to come up with an immediate specific example. Sometimes kindness comes directly back to us, and sometimes it’s passed on to the next person. There are so many stories, so I was embarrassed when my mind wouldn’t work quickly enough to filter through them all and find just one to share with the group.
“Often we hear that kindness given will be returned to us, but seldom is it immediate. Today, it was immediate for me. I was running behind at the grocery store and rushing to check out. There was only one lane open.
“I had a full cart, so when I noticed a lady get in line behind me with only two items in her hand, I motioned for her to go ahead. She thanked me and went on. Then, as I continued to unload my cart of goodies, another older woman came up, asking if I minded her going in front of me because she only had one item and a friend was waiting for her. I’ve been the recipient of kindness too many times in my life to forgo this small gesture, so I said ‘of course,’ and on she went.
“Finally, it was my turn. Halfway through, as the cashier was ringing up my large amount of items, I felt this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realized I didn’t have my debit card. This particular store accepts only debit or cash, and I had neither.
“I looked at the cashier and confessed, expecting I would have to slink out of the store in embarrassment (as there was now a long line behind me to witness my transgression). Immediately though, she said she’d finish ringing my order, call the manager to put the order on hold for later, and wheel my cart in the freezer to keep it cold. That would give me time to run home and get my card.
“I looked at her with gratitude in my eyes, believing I was receiving kindness because I’d given kindness. I promised a quick return and headed out of the store, believing this to be the end of my kindness moment. Yet, God wasn’t done giving me a wink (as a friend of mine so lovingly puts it).
“I was almost to my car when the store manager came out after me. He walked up to me, stated that he’d personally pay for my order, so I could take it home, if I’d only come back later today and pay him back.
“For what seemed like too long, I simply stared at him. I couldn’t believe he was offering to do this for me. I said thank you, got my bags, and headed home.
“My heart was full of gratitude and clarity. I’d said ‘hi’ to this man every time I’d entered his store, never expecting for anything to come of the simple act, but today something did. Kindness does come back around and everyone does understand it. Needless to say, this gentleman’s kindness was quite unnecessary, but it didn’t go unnoticed and it will be returned many times over.”
Thanks, Tania. It’s pretty amazing when we get to give and receive kindness, when all we planned to do was buy groceries.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.