I really should have kept a list of all the people who helped me during my battle with breast cancer. It would be filled with the names of family and friends who delivered meals and picked up kids and sent cards.
But it would also be filled with the names of strangers who helped me get through each day after my surgery when I was desperate to return to my routine. Friendly people seemed to come out of nowhere when I needed them most. Just like the two boys who helped my friend Teresa when she was dealing with a painful rib injury.
“This past week I needed to make my normal trip to our local grocery store. Truthfully, I really enjoy these trips. Many, many times I enjoy being a helping hand. I have joked with friends that I really should go to the manager and ask for a job. I love helping bewildered men find the things on the list that their wives have sent them there to buy. Or those with failing eyesight to read a label. Or others who may not be able to read a recipe a friend gave them. I have moved carts from awkward places, bagged groceries to help out a very stressed employee, and listened to many grocery checkers who just seem to think I have a warm smile and a caring ear.
“But recently I was the one who was helped. You see, several weeks ago I cracked a rib from a silly fall. I have been healing nicely but the grocery store was one place I needed to be a bit careful.
“I was in the snack aisle looking for our favorite chips when I spotted the very last bag way back on an upper shelf. I tried a couple of times to reach it, but stretching above my head is still the thing that brings the most pain from my sensitive rib. I placed one foot on the lower shelf and tried again but still no success. I figured I’d need to skip the chips.
“Then, out of the blue, came two sweet teenage boys. The older one asked, ‘Do you need some help?’ I was startled, but then said, ‘Why, yes, I sure do’ with a big smile on my face.
“The young man climbed right up on that lower shelf and reached way back and pulled out the last bag in the store. Hallelujah! I took the bag, thanked them, and told them they had done their Random Act of Kindness for the day. They smiled and walked away.
“What blessed my heart was that they were not walking through the store in their own little self-absorbed worlds. They were not on their phones or sulking because mom had asked them to go pick up something from the store.
“Really, I was very unnoticeable with my dilemma, yet they paid attention and offered to help a stranger. Maybe it was a little thing for them, but it was a big thing for me. I’m sure you can tell, we really like those chips!”
Chips and kindness: That sounds like the perfect combination!
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.
icole 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 Friday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.