It’s June, and yet if you happen to mention the past winter to anyone in North Dakota, you will still hear, “Uff da, the worst we’ve ever had.”
Sometimes they follow it up with, “I’m putting my house up for sale.” It’s unclear whether or not they are joking.
Fargo resident Avis Dolan knew she better get out of Dodge before her mental health plummeted. Here’s her story:
“I decided to visit my college friend in Florida. March 9 approached, and so did some weather warnings for the upcoming week. Oh, great.
"My trip was planned for Wednesday, March 12, at 6 a.m. out of Fargo. I sat disappointed on my sofa, hoping the impending blizzard would pass us by. As the week continued, so did the weather warnings. I got out of bed at 3:30 a.m. No storm, flight is on schedule.
"I arrived at the airport in my sandals and capris. We 'bounced' to Denver and unloaded on the tarmac in horizontal rain. With very little time to make my connection, I took off at a sprint! No luck — I missed my connection by five minutes. That was the only flight to Fort Myers (Fla.) from Denver that day.
"I cried as I caught my breath. I needed this vacation, this sun, this heat, this friend. The biggest blizzard in Denver’s history was coming and I was in the middle of it.
"As I stood for an hour or more in the first of many lines to find a rescheduled flight, I spoke with strangers. The woman behind me was trying to get to Hawaii for a seminar. She had paid $900 and wasn't going to make it before the seminar would be over.
"I made small talk with Pizza Hut and Haagen-Dazs shop owners a couple of times. They gave me some free coffee.
"I talked with a gate agent who ended up telling me about issues he has with an older brother and why he moved to Denver from his home state of Maine. At the end of our conversation, he asked if he could give me a hug! I really felt like God put me there to talk with him about the struggles with his brother. I was completely in awe of this encounter.
"I discovered that I had seen many acts of kindness and learned many lessons in those 36 hours. There had been no raised voices from travelers or employees. I was lucky to not be pregnant, traveling with children or traveling with pets. I had money, I was going on vacation and I was safe. I wasn't missing a wedding, funeral or seminar in Hawaii. I didn't need a wheelchair, personal assistance or medical help.
"I tried to spread kindness by offering smiles through the thick and thin. I made it to Fort Myers at 10:30 Thursday night. Although I had just one day of sun, the change of scenery and wonderful heart-to-heart conversations with a college friend from 40 years ago were priceless and just what I needed.”
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, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.