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Nicole Phillips, Published February 17 2012

Phillips: Taking an opportunity to make someone’s day

Have you ever experienced one of those totally uncomfortable moments where everyone is standing around and no one knows quite what to say?

It’s happened to me ... when my credit card is inexplicably denied at the grocery store. I want to shout to everyone in line behind me, “I PAY MY BILLS! I SWEAR!” but perhaps that month I had forgotten.

It’s happened to me ... when the woman in front of me has to tell the cashier to put back the cereal box because she didn’t realize the bill would be so high.

Those situations are awkward, but as Barton Cahill from Moorhead demonstrates with his story, they are also incredible opportunities to show kindness.

“Nicole, Love your column. It reminded me of something that happened last spring when I was visiting the Twin Cities.

“I went to a gas station, filled up my tank, and went inside to pay. I was waiting in line, along with a number of other customers, many of whom looked grumpy and impatient.

“The first lady in line was looking in her purse, and suddenly realized she had no money or credit cards with her to pay the cashier. We all saw what was going on, and without really thinking, I went up to her and told her I would be happy to pay for her gas.

“She was flabbergasted, as were the others waiting in line. She initially refused, but I insisted on paying. She wanted my phone number and address to pay me back later. I told her ‘don’t worry about it. I don’t want you to pay me back.’ She finally talked me into giving her my information.

“We parted ways, and I can tell you what happened that day probably lifted my spirits more than it helped her pay for a tank of gas. I experienced that wonderful feeling you spoke of in your column.

“Sure enough, the lady soon sent me a beautiful thank-you card, along with a check for the money I had given her that day. And even better, that little incident is likely something both of us will remember for a long time, maybe forever.”

Barton, I would be willing to bet there was a whole convenience store full of people who went home and shared that story with their families. Maybe it even sparked the urge in them to leave their comfort zones and carry on with kindness, so thanks to your example.

I LOVE hearing your stories of kindness. Please, take the time to tell me about someone who did something nice for you or a time you went out of your way to help someone else. It’s not bragging. It’s the first step to spreading the kindness bug.

You can reach me via email at nphillips15@hotmail.com or send me a letter at Kindness is Contagious, c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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.