My purse was stolen when I was in college. A few years later, it happened again. Was it my fault? Absolutely. I had been careless both times.
The grief I felt came from a sense of being personally violated, but it also stemmed from something larger. I had believed in my heart that people were good, but good people didn't steal purses. So was I wrong about humanity?
Luckily, in the 20-plus years since those experiences, I have witnessed the kindness of people again and again. My faith in humankind has long since been restored.
Jean Clemens of Fargo is feeling pretty good about the human population after a mistake on her part was made right by a stranger in an airport.
"My husband and I were flying home the day after Christmas after spending time with my family in Chattanooga. When they called us to board our flight to Atlanta, I gathered my carry-on and magazine and left my purse behind. I have never done that before. Ever. I travel with a small purse and didn't realize it was missing until we were ready to land at our connecting city.
The panicky feeling I had was overwhelming. I had no boarding passes, ID, credit card, phone, cash, or even a piece of gum! The Delta agent in Atlanta was super nice and printed my boarding passes so at least I knew I could get home.
I called my cousin, Mike, back in Tennessee and he sent his son, Cam, in search of the purse.
Cam went to the airport and was told that a women had found the purse and was taking it home with her to make sure I got it back. The Delta agent let her take it, which Cam thought was odd. Anyway, the stranger looked me up on Facebook and figured out who I was related to in Chattanooga. A little detective work and she got my cousin, Mike's, number and called him to let him know the purse was safe. Cam went to her house to pick it up and even offered her a reward which she declined. She told him she had once been a victim of identity theft and did not want that to happen to me!
Her name is Janet and her kindness is just amazing. Since Cam had her address, I was able to send her a thank you card and a box of Chippers. How can you not like Chippers? Janet and Cam are my heroes. Oh, and by the way, did you know it costs $130 to overnight a package from Chattanooga to Fargo? So worth it."
"Chippers" are a Fargo delicacy. They are chocolate-covered potato chips, and they are the one thing my family makes sure I bring back to Ohio each time I visit. I'm certain Janet is going to enjoy a little taste of North Dakota niceness in exchange for her kindness.
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 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. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.