I let an opportunity for kindness pass me by, and I still regret it. I was at a restaurant when the server mentioned that she liked my necklace. A quiet voice in the back of my mind was nudging me to give it to her, but a louder voice was telling me how silly that would be and how uncomfortable that interaction would be for both of us.
So, I’m embarrassed that I let the big, mean voice win out. Especially when I read a letter sent in from a woman in Fargo who was indeed gifted with a necklace in a restaurant, and just what that gift meant to her.
“I had the most wonderful experience. I was the recipient of a random act of kindness, and it brought tears of joy and gratitude to my eyes.
“I am a middle-aged woman who has been downsized twice in the past three years from a professional and highly sought-after position in an industry that has experienced much change. I decided after the last downsizing to try my hand at being a server. I haven’t been a server for over 35 years, so it was an unusual choice for me to make.
“I almost gave up, thinking I would never get the table and seat numbers correct, much less catch on to the nuances of the menu or the computer system. Once I figured it out and gained confidence in my ability to do the job, I discovered I liked the work and it gave me a sense of accomplishment. I was raised in a large family with a mom who cooked dinner for us every night. She showed her love and kindness by preparing and serving us food, which may have something to do with the sense of satisfaction I get from serving food and doing my best.
“My incredible experience came from the last table of the night, which was a family of six with two adult daughters. I complimented one of the daughters on her necklace, and she thanked me. As they were leaving, she took her necklace off and gave it to me. She said she had gotten enough use out of it and she wanted me to have it since I liked it so much.
“These people were strangers to me, yet their 21-year-old daughter felt the need to give me her beautiful necklace! I was so touched by her kindness and generosity, I sobbed after they left. I had been having a rough day thinking of my beautiful older sister who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and my mom who passed away from the disease a few years ago. My mom was the type of person who was generous and kind, like this young woman, and I could envision my mother giving her necklace to a perfect stranger. The kind and generous act done for me by this young, caring woman felt like a message from my mom, that she is still with us and that everything will be OK.”
You never know the battle someone else is facing and what your act of kindness may mean to them. May I suggest we all start listening to the little voices in our heads?
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.