You know what I just realized? I do not know the name of the woman who delivers my mail.

Usually my mail carrier just leaves the letters in the box by the road and eventually I wander out and collect them. But every few months, she pulls her truck into my driveway and hops out to hand me a package or a post-vacation bundle of mail.

I always smile and say thank you, but in the three years that we’ve lived in this house, I never once thought to ask her name.

I got a letter from a man who used to deliver my mail in Fargo that really got me thinking about just how much I miss when I’m lost in my own little world.

“I delivered mail to your house in north Fargo. I never met you there, but I did see Saul and your little children out and about on the bicycle. He remembered me and would always greet me. Please pass on to him how much I appreciated that.

“As a letter carrier of 20 years, I often found myself in situations that called for a helping hand. I’ve found lost cell phones, returned a lady’s purse, given directions, detected a natural gas leak, called 911 during a crisis, found a wandering child, stumbled upon people passed out, and much more.

“One icy, cold and snowing day, I found a guy from one of my mail routes wandering down the sidewalk with only one shoe on. The other foot was bare. He kept falling down. I called the police and then followed him until help arrived. The police thought he was drunk, but I’ve never seen him like that before. He likely could have been experiencing a medical situation. I don’t know, nor do I need to know. It felt good to help, but it more seemed like the right thing to do.

“So now I’m wondering, can a person differentiate between doing an act of kindness and doing what one ‘should’ do? As a good citizen, one is expected to just step in and help. Where does citizenship end and kindness begin?”

Hmm … good question. I often talk about stepping out of our comfort zones and experiencing that “Helper’s High.” But the truth is, we need more kindness in this world whether it comes with an adrenaline rush or not.

Sometimes life puts opportunities in our paths to help someone, and we do it because we feel like we should. I think kindness comes into play during those situations when we give just a little more than is necessary.

Like instead of just thanking the mail carrier for the package, we take a moment to ask her name. Then we work hard to show her she is valued in the future by actually remembering it.

Friends, I would love to hear your answer to the question, “Where does citizenship end and kindness begin?” Please email me with your thoughts 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 column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at