By Nicole Phillips

I believe everything happens for a reason. Granted, I live a blessed life. But when I get frustrated with the little things and begin to pout “Why me?” I’ve found the best balm is to be kind to others.

Nancy from Horace agrees. She sent me this email:

“Nicole, I saw your article in the paper the other day, and I wanted to tell you about a day last March that changed my life. My husband, Mark, and I were returning home from a wonderful vacation in Maui. We had been gone 10 days, and all we wanted was to get home (even if we were going from a beautiful tropical island to cold N.D.). Our last flight from Denver to Fargo had just been canceled. We thought, no big deal, we will just catch the next flight. Well, this was Saturday, and the next flight wasn’t until Tuesday. There were two flights to Sioux Falls and one to Bismarck yet that day. We were told to go to each departing gate and put our names on the standby list.

We made it to the first gate, but as we were walking down the ramp, the plane taxied away. Yep, it left us standing. Starting to feel tired and crabby, we took off for the next gate. Oh boy, our luck was about to change. The flight had two open seats, and we were Nos. 1 and 2 on the list.

As we grabbed our bags and walked to the counter, I noticed a serviceman sitting in his fatigues with his duffle bag. I had to stop. As he sat with his head down, I looked up at the screen and saw that there were actually three people on the standby list. He was the third person. We went to the counter and told the lady to take us off and put him on the flight. He started to cry and told us that he hadn’t seen his family in over a year.

We ended up getting on the next flight and arrived in Sioux Falls about 10:30 p.m. In the nearly deserted airport, we noticed a young Chinese girl standing at the counter, looking very upset. I stopped to see what was wrong, and Jingjing told me in her broken English that she had gotten off the plane by mistake. She was heading to Ames, Iowa, where she attended college, but since she had walked off the plane and out of the security area, they would not let her back on.

She was very confused. She didn’t even know what city she was in. I gave her a big hug and told her we would take care of her. She started to cry and said thank you over and over. We took her back to the hotel with us and arranged a ride to get her to Iowa.

We still stay in contact with Jingjing. She is back in China and wants her new (American) family to visit. We could not walk away that night and leave her standing all alone in that empty airport. We have three daughters and would hope that someone would help them if they needed it. I know that she will be forever grateful to us, but she has certainly changed our lives, too. So you see, Nicole, it was all meant to be. If that flight hadn’t been canceled, then we wouldn’t have been able to help the serviceman get home sooner or help Jingjing get back to college. As bad as I thought the last couple of days of our vacation were at the time, I wouldn’t have changed them for anything.”

Continue to share your random acts of kindness stories at nphillips15@hot Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.