Do you want to know the problem with making kindness your mission in life? You actually have to be kind. All the time.

The other day, my husband and I were having problems communicating. Since it was more of a technology issue than a marital issue, we headed into the cellphone store to straighten it out.Saul’s not big into reading the fine print of contracts (or listening as others are explaining the fine print), so a few months prior, he had agreed to a cell plan that neither of us really wanted or needed. What can I say? The guy is really good with basketball stuff; he leaves the rest to me.

We marched into the store a bit out of sorts. We were both kind of mad about the situation but not quite sure on whom our fury should land.

We had planned to demand to speak to the manager, but it turned out we never had to. She greeted us at the door.

I try on a daily basis to swallow my darker emotions and choose kindness, but sometimes it’s hard. That said, instead of pointing fingers at this manager or any of her employees, I just tried desperately to explain our conundrum in the hopes she could make it all better.

She did.

As we were finishing the final paperwork, she looked at me and said, “So, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“Oh! What do you write?”

And this is when I was so thankful I had chosen not to enter the store on the attack.

“Um. I write about kindness.”

She asked where she could read my column, so I gave her the website. Not only did she read it, she actually sent me a story that reminded me why it’s important to treat everyone we meet tenderly. Because when we’re done with our “day job,” we each still have to deal with the joys and sorrows of real life.

Here’s Valerie’s letter:

“I was really touched by your recent column.

“My grandmother is not doing well. Recently, while in the emergency room, a man came around and was picking up the trash in each room. I smiled at the man and asked him how his day was going. We made small talk about the work day and when he started to leave, I told him to have a good evening. He thanked me.

“About an hour later, I noticed the man passing by the room again. He came back into our room and told me that out of 18 rooms, I was the only person who spoke to him. He said I didn’t just talk to him, but I smiled at him and asked him how he was doing. He thanked me again and said, ‘God bless.’

“I wanted to jump out of my seat because I saw kindness displayed and just felt good. Have we as a society became so consumed with ourselves that we can’t even say hello to a man who is working to change our trash cans? I hope not and promise to continue to display acts of kindness!”

Valerie, thank you so much for sharing your story. That “jump out of my seat” feeling is exactly the reason I started writing this column three years ago.

Thank you, also, for helping this husband-wife team improve our communication!

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at 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 columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at