“Whoa! People work this early in the morning?”

That was my first-grade son’s reaction as we passed a garbage truck recently at 5:30 a.m.

We were heading out on a family vacation. The men in the truck were hustling in the rain to pick up bin after bin of trash.

“Yes. And I’m grateful they do. How about you?” I responded.

That led to a brief conversation about many other things people do to earn money to support themselves and their families.

I could tell my son had been taking for granted that certain things just get done without thinking about who actually does them.

I have to admit, I’ve been guilty of that myself.

Earning a living isn’t always easy or fun. With so many thankless and overlooked jobs out there, it feels especially precious when someone stops to notice a job well done. Or when the person doing the job reaches out even further to extend the hand of kindness.

A West Virginia couple was especially touched when a man working on the side of the road stopped what he was doing to acknowledge the pain they felt the day of their mother’s funeral.

In an effort to thank him, the couple posed a question to their social media circle.

“Can anyone please tell us the employee’s name that works at Little Caesars on the south side of Parkersburg who stands outside dancing with the sign? He is an amazing person and incredibly respectful! We want to make sure he gets recognized for his kindness.

“As most of you know, we lost our wonderful mother, Rose, this past week. The funeral was on Saturday. This gentleman was working, and as the funeral procession passed by him, he removed his hat, placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head in honor of a woman that he’d never met! This meant the world to those of us who loved her. It touched our hearts deeply!”

What followed on Facebook was beautiful. Person after person commented, everything from “He’s a cool dude!” to “He has been doing that for years.”

Someone else said “He did this for my dad, too. We went in and told them about it. It is an awesome thing he does.”

Nearly a dozen people had separate but similar stories of the man who stands on the side of the road, energetically encouraging people to pick up a pizza, while also giving them a side of kindness.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.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.

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 nicolejphillips.com.