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Nicole J. Phillips, Published January 17 2014

Kindness is Contagious: Woman’s lost purse stirs an act of kindness

When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with my mother’s purse. I remember digging through it, looking for who-knows-what, only to be told that it wasn’t polite to look in a woman’s purse. It became one of those unwritten rules: you don’t ask people how much money they make, you don’t ask a woman her age, and you don’t play in your mother’s purse.

Now that I’m an adult, I get it. My kids have been told more than once, “Get out of my purse!” It’s not that I’m hiding anything incredibly secretive in there. It’s just that it holds a lot of stuff. My stuff. Stuff that I may want on a moment’s notice, and stuff that may fall out if a child is rifling through it.

I completely understand the panic Penny Burgau says she felt when she went looking for her purse and came up empty.

“I had to stop after work and get a few groceries at the Moorhead Hornbacher’s store. When my shopping was complete, I ventured to the parking lot and unloaded my groceries into the trunk of my car. I then wheeled my cart back into the cart corral. It was snowing and kind of slippery outside so, needless to say, I was anxious to get home and call it a night.

“When I got into the garage, I looked on the seat next to me for my purse and – no purse. I opened the trunk to get my groceries out, and still no purse. Now the panic set in.

“My first thought was that I had to call Hornbachers and see if by some lucky chance someone had turned in a purse that was left in the grocery cart in the cart corral. Then I remembered I couldn’t call anyone as my phone was in my purse! By this time my legs were like jello and my head was swimming as to what I should do next since almost my entire life is stored in my purse!

“I tried to calm down and told myself I had to drive back to Hornbachers. The roads were slippery and I knew I couldn’t drive very fast as an accident on top of all this would get me nowhere.

“Just as I was pulling out of our driveway, there was a gray van with a couple inside pulling into our cul-de-sac. I didn’t recognize the vehicle or its occupants, but they were looking at me with an expression that I really couldn’t explain at the time. The next thing I know, I threw open my car door and ran up to the vehicle and shouted ‘You didn’t by any chance find ...’ and before I finished the sentence, the gentleman held up my purse!

“I couldn’t believe it. They had driven all the way to my house to deliver it to me after finding the address on my driver’s license. They explained that they saw the purse in the grocery cart and no one was around. Being the honest people they must be, they drove to my house to hand-deliver it.

“I was just ecstatic and thanked them profusely. I hugged the gentleman and I think I even said I loved him. At that point I really did.

“One of the regrets I have of this entire situation is that I never got the couple’s names. I’m so sorry I didn’t, but I hope they read your article so they know how much I appreciate what they did for me and the honesty they displayed. Yes, Moorhead-Fargo, there are Good Samaritans in our fine cities and this is one act of kindness that I will never forget.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Penny. The next time my kids are digging through my purse, I’ll have to remember to say a little prayer of gratitude that at least I know where my purse is!

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 an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.