Have you ever gone viral?
Me neither — unless you count winning a car on “The Price is Right,” but that’s not really fame as much as it is a quick brush with fortune (until we had to pay taxes on the car I won).
My friend Don Carter has gone viral. Back in 2017, he met a woman working at a Popeyes drive-thru who mentioned that someday she wanted to be a nurse. Don got a whole bunch of his friends to donate a few bucks and before you can say “love that chicken,” the young woman’s nursing school tuition was covered.
Don ended up on the “Steve Harvey” talk show and “NBC Nightly News.”
I recently interviewed Don for the 100th episode of The Kindness Podcast and asked him how his thoughts on kindness have evolved since that experience. What he told me was life-changing.
He said, “Nicole, we are so preoccupied with paying back people’s kindness. We feel the need to pay it back or pay it forward, when really, all we need to do is pay attention.”
Isn’t that the true essence of kindness? We want so badly to do the right thing and to be a kind, contributing member of society who doesn’t take more than our fair share, but the truth is, the best thing we can do for others is to see them. We can be the person who pays attention when no one else does and forget about keeping score.
A woman from Brownsville, Tenn., is beyond grateful that someone paid attention to her. She could have made it on her own, but she’s very grateful she didn’t have to.
“I’m not sure who the man was, but he was heaven-sent!
“I had to get my medicine from Walmart so I figured I’d get a few other things we needed. I didn’t get very much but the few things I got were in big boxes so my cart was full.
“I was coming out of Walmart pulling the cart with one hand, while holding my young son in my other arm. I was trying to keep a blanket over his head because it was only in the mid-30s and raining. My son was screaming because he hates to be covered up and kept taking the blanket and hat off his head.
“A nearby man stopped and asked if I needed help. Not only did he push the cart to the SUV for me, he loaded it all (which saved me, because I didn’t know how I was gonna get the biggest box in there). He even returned my cart!
“The man told me he’d get it all, and I could just tend to the baby. I can never thank him enough. It doesn’t seem like much but he was such a blessing to us.”
The man at Walmart saw the woman’s predicament and took five minutes to get a little soggy. He paid attention and it made someone’s day.
You can check out Don’s viral video on Today.com by searching “Strangers surprise Popeyes employee with nursing school tuition.” Listen to my interview with Don on NPR. And if you want to see me go completely berserk on national television, check out The Price is Right.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.