Do you ever think to yourself, “I’m always nice to people, but I really don’t have the time, energy, money or (fill-in-the-blank) to go around doing random acts of kindness?”

I used to think that way. I used to think the inconvenience of doing an act of kindness just wouldn’t be worth the reward.

Well, I was wrong. The opportunity to be kind is everywhere. You just have to slow down enough to see it, hear it and seize it. And the reward is definitely worth the effort.

A very kind-hearted columnist, Kathy Tofflemire, from The Forum, sent me this first letter:

“Tonight, when I left to go on my supper break, I stopped at the post office and then went to Mom’s Diner to grab a bite since it was close by.

“Just as I was finishing my meal, an older gentleman came in. He was obviously a regular; the manager greeted him and asked how he was. The man said, ‘I have a secret, if you promise not to tell anyone. It’s my birthday.’

“I got up and put on my coat, then said to him: ‘He didn’t tell anyone, but Happy Birthday.’ He seemed genuinely pleased, put out his hand and asked me my name. I said ‘Kathy.’ He said he hoped to see me there again.

“I was driving back to The Forum and thought about how sad it was that the man was eating alone on his birthday. When I got back to the office, I called the restaurant and told the manager I wanted to buy the gentleman his dinner. We made the necessary arrangements and it gave me such a good feeling.”


“On Valentine’s evening my husband and I were at Cow Gals restaurant in Great Bend, N.D., having dinner.

“In came a younger man and asked if he could sit at our table. It was a table for eight, and it was only the two of us, so we said, ‘Of course.’

“He remarked that today was our lucky day and we agreed. We are 69 and 70, and we have been married a year and a half. We feel blessed to have each other.

“Thinking no more about it we went on with our dinner. He got up to leave before us. Then the man returned and said, ‘Remember when I told you it was your lucky day? I paid for your dinner. Have a great evening!’

“We did not get his name, but his kindness will be remembered for a long time, and we continue to share this story with friends and family.

“I will never go by Cow Gals again without remembering that special night. We hope he will see this article and know we are grateful and will pay it forward.”

It is so much fun to have someone surprise you by picking up the tab, but I promise you, the feeling you get from being the one who recognized and seized the chance to be kind is an even better feeling by far.

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 an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at