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Nicole Phillips, Published April 20 2012

Phillips: Our own needs lead to kindness

I don’t think too many people wake up on a Saturday morning and say, “Today I am going to be kind.” I think sometimes, kindness just sort of happens.

But I do believe that when it happens once, it’s likely to happen again, because as Daphne Meyers from Fargo writes, even if you didn’t set out to be kind, the feeling you get from doing something nice can turn you on your head … in a good way.

“Hello Nicole – I enjoy your column very much as it reminds why I love living in this community and all the wonderful people here. I have a story to share with you that began with completely selfish motivation (on my part) and resulted in an act of kindness I could not have scripted if I had tried.

A couple of years ago, I was privileged to win an all-expense paid trip to San Diego. Over a long, wet December weekend, my son (then 9) and I enjoyed all the highlights – Sea World and the San Diego Zoo at little to no cost. It was an amazing trip.

On our last afternoon, we decided to visit the SS Midway, the decommissioned Air Craft Carrier. I had been given tickets to this as well, and along with the entry tickets, there were two tickets to the flight simulator. After seeing the simulator turn people on their heads and hearing that my son was going to pilot it, I thought, no way am I getting on that thing!

My son didn’t want to go alone, so I set out to find him a “buddy.’ I saw a boy with his mom and asked her if he would be interested, but she said he could not as he had autism. She did say that her older son (who was 11) had been begging to go on it. I asked if he would want to ride with my son, and she said she had to chat with her husband and would let me know.

She seemed very hesitant, but I didn’t know why at the time. When the husband agreed, she asked me where to buy him a ticket. I explained that I already had one for him, because I didn’t want to ride. All of a sudden her mood lightened and off the boys went for their ride.

While riding the simulator, the software kept freezing, so the operator would stop it and start the machine again. The boys ended up with about a 45-minute ride versus the regular 10.

While they were riding, the mother and I began to chat. I asked why they were in San Diego and she said they were there to visit her brother-in-law and family as he was being deployed to Afghanistan very soon.

After we visited a while more, she told me something that still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I also remember the tears in her eyes. She said they had come to the carrier that day because military families get in for free. It was the only attraction they could afford to take their kids to in San Diego.

She said her son had been begging to go on the simulator, but they knew that it might mean cutting somewhere else or worrying about not having enough gas money to get back to New Mexico.

Her husband finally gave in when she asked again.

I was so taken aback, I didn’t know what to say. I am so glad that I was able to make a special memory for that young boy, but I think my memories are even more precious, especially when I remember that I was only thinking about myself when I offered her son the ride.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Daphne!

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.