When my husband and I first got together, we were living seven hours apart. Each weekend, one of us would make the commute from Milwaukee to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
Maybe things were different back then or maybe we were naive, but it never occurred to either of us that it could be dangerous to drive 400 miles in our very used cars without cellphones in the middle of winter.
This story sent in by Hannah from Fargo reminded me of some white-knuckle trips to see my future husband and how the kindness of strangers always seemed to come at just the right time.
“Time with loved ones is extremely precious to me. The last several months have been especially trying for my boyfriend and me. With opposite and very busy schedules and 72 miles separating us, we’ve had two days together in two months.
“Because of this, it was extremely important to me that I would be able to spend his birthday with him. North Dakota weather, however, decided it didn’t want to cooperate with my plans.
“With my car packed, I began the normally easy drive to Grand Forks. All too quickly the driving conditions turned very difficult with near zero visibility at times.
“I decided to pull off at the Grandin, N.D., exit to determine if I should drive back to Fargo or continue on. A mix of emotions washed over me: the unknown of what the rest of the journey would entail, not wanting to miss my boyfriend’s birthday, but also not wanting to be stupid and drive through dangerous conditions. I stopped at the gas station in Grandin and started to pray about it.
“I started talking to a woman and her husband. They were from Wahpeton, N.D., and were heading to Grand Forks with their daughters for hockey. Pam, the wife, told me she was nervous about the weather but her husband was doing fine and knew they would make it safely. She asked why I was heading to Grand Forks, and when she found out it was for my boyfriend’s birthday she said I had to get there.
“She offered to trade cellphone numbers, and she said I could follow them, and they would watch to make sure I made it safely. If I got scared or too nervous, they would help me get turned around as well.
“We all piled in to our respective vehicles and drove on toward Grand Forks.
“The conditions were miserable, and at times, I couldn’t even see their black SUV in front of me, but I prayed and knew these angels were watching out for me.
“Finally, the snow died down, and I could see them. A sense of peace washed over me. It was by far the most stressful drive I have made. We all arrived safely, and I cannot express how thankful I am.
“This couple could have completely ignored me and just brushed me off as an overly nervous driver. They had no reason to care about my well-being or comfort, yet they did. It’s so easy to say we live in a world where people don’t care.
“This wonderful family proved there really are angels among us. I felt so blessed to finally have some much needed quality time with my boyfriend. I don’t know that I can ever let this family know how much their kindness meant. Never underestimate the power of reaching out to a stranger.”
Thanks, Hannah. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time is much more than a coincidence.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@
hotmail.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
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.