The Nicest Thing

black-eyed-peasIt was unthinkable to miss a New Year’s Eve party at Gibson and Joan Carothers’ house in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. At the stroke of midnight, spoons at the ready, everyone would dig into a bowl of Joan’s black-eyed peas and wash them down with a glass of bubbly. It was an old Southern tradition, said the Louisiana natives, that good luck would surely be yours if the first thing you swallowed in the new year was a spoonful of black-eyed peas.

But one year, I had a deadline to meet and could ill afford to lose a day spent recovering from a late-night celebration. So I called Gibson at his office, explained the situation, and gave my regrets.

A couple hours later, the doorbell rang. It was Gibson. With a smile, he offered me a Tupperware container filled with black-eyed peas. I was stunned. He had taken valuable time away from party preparation to drive nearly ten miles to my house just so I wouldn’t be without a spoonful of black-eyed peas at midnight. To this day, I still marvel at his act of kindness and thoughtfulness.

So what’s the nicest thing anyone you aren’t related to has ever done for you? I look forward to hearing your stories!

Click here to view all my posts on the transcendent power of kindness.

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24 Responses to “The Nicest Thing”

  1. becky Says:

    Touching story. I can’t think of one nicest thing. As a person who is blind – I am the recipient of incredible kindness each day. I hope I can pay it forward. Today my friend and I had mammograms. She said – this is something that I do for someone I love is make sure they have their annual mammogram. I thought that was so sweet and we had a great time taking care of our health.

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    That is indeed an act of caring and love, Becky. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Rachel Says:

    Like Becky said, it’s hard to pick one thing but when I was reading your story (very touching) I thought of one thing.

    I was traveling through Europe alone when I was 19. I was on a train from Salzburg to Prague and getting exposed to some new ways of doing things, like armored men getting on the train in the middle of nowhere. Prague had also been underwater for a week or two but I had heard it was clearing up. I talked to the guy in my train car who was about my age for a little bit and he got off with me. He asked where I was staying. “But that’s Zone 6. You’ll never get in the city. You should stay where I’m staying.” He was staying at his University because they rented out dorm rooms during the summer. I said okay. He canceled my hotel reservation on his cell phone in Czech, took me to his dorm, paid for my room and then took me to see the sights even though he had to switch a trip to see his parents around. Then he rode all the way out to the airport and waited for my plane with me. He was totally nice to me and never tried to take advantage of me in any way. I think about it all the time.

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    That’s a wonderful story, Rachel. As the father of a daughter, I know how much women appreciate the kind attention of men who have no ulterior motives. That’s all too rare.

  5. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Says:

    Probably the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me was to take me in, give me a place to stay for three months rent free, fed me two free meals a day and helped me find a job when I was 19 and left home. It was summer and I was getting ready to transfer to a 4 year college.

    I finally had the courage to leave home against my alcoholic/sexual perpetrator father’s wishes. I had said no to the incest two years before at the age of 17 but still lived with the constant stress of him wanting me to change my mind. I, in effect, ran away from home. My mother knew but stopped me from telling my dad that I was leaving. I couldn’t take the stress of living with my abuser any longer.

    I had no money and nowhere to go until my junior college friend offered me the safety of her home and helped me to find a summer job. She didn’t know about the incest.

    I went to my last two years of college by having student employment jobs and student loans. I will always be grateful that God sent me this wonderful lady who became like a mom to me. She was several years older than both of my parents and had children my age and younger.

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I am very sorry to hear of your history of abuse, Patricia, but glad that you were taken in by such a kind earth angel.

  7. Catherine Nagle Says:

    What a wonderful story, Phil! One among many:

    I came home from work one day and found a birthday present outside my door from a friend in high school who I haven’t seen in years. – With a note saying that she remembered our friendship and valued it to this day. The thought of her kindness brings love and joy to my heart to this day! I continued the kindness to others in my life, from her exceptional kindness of heart she shown to me.


  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Good story, Catherine. Just goes to show how it doesn’t take much to touch someone’s heart and create a wonderful memory.

  9. Kymali Pichon Says:

    I have been the recipient of many wonderful acts of kindness over the years and try to make a daily habit of paying it forward. I saw a woman with a custom necklace that a friend gave her which read: Kindness Regardless. That same week, I took the advice of Deepak Chopra , to give a gift to someone each day, even if it is just a compliment, a smile, or a flower. I have done so ever since. Little things matter, more than we know and the world is in desperate need of little acts of kindness. Thanks for the reminder of how much those things mean.

  10. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thank you for your inspiring words, Kymali. I’m sure they will touch and inspire many others. Your comment was your gift for today!

  11. George & Loretta Fischer Says:

    The blessings and kindness we have experienced during the last 19 months have been legion. On 1/1/08, an early diagnosis of a usually deadly cancer rocked my world. Intricate surgery and six months of radiation and chemotherapy followed. On the last day of my chemo, my wife was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. 3 days later she had extensive surgery, and has now finished 6 months of hard chemo. We are so thankful for 100% clear scans! We will be checked every 3 months for 2 years. We would never have been able to plow through the maze of these months without the kind words, deeds, thoughts and prayers of hundreds! The prayers arose everywhere from a Roman Catholic order in Buffalo New York to our Moslem friend and restaurateur down the block. Every day brings new blessings, and reminders of good old friends like Phil Bolsta. We loved the black-eyed peas story, and plan to buy Phil’s book soon!

  12. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You and Loretta have indeed had a remarkable journey these past 19 months, George. I was so glad to hear positive reports! Best of luck to you, my friend!

  13. Kim Says:

    What great stories people have contributed here. Two stories come to mind. I know you know Ellen. She surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas for the weekend my divorce was final. This was months in advance so I had it to look forward to. Talk about distracting me that weekend! We had a blast.

    And one time I was in line at a gas station to pay for my gas when the woman in front of me said she paid for it. She was a total stranger! She said she wanted to make my day and just “pay it forward.” It was around the time of that movie. I hope that concept is still alive. I think it is.

  14. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yep, it doesn’t take much to make someone’s day and create a moment to remember. Thanks, Kim!

  15. Anita Casalina Says:

    Such sweet stories!

    As a psychic and spiritual healer I am often gifted with amazing unexpected blessings. When I can clear a physical or emotional condition and someone reports immediate shifts, or when using EFT I see an unwinding and letting go of a pattern that had gripped someone for years.

    I am touched each day by how much God/Spirit wants us to thrive and feel joy. When we reach up, we receive.

    Thanks for this blog site Phil!

  16. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You’re welcome, Anita!

  17. Shawna Martin Says:

    I had just changed jobs; not too far out of college, working my way up the ladder. I was driving a car that my Dad gave me. Poor car was hit on one side by my friend and on the other side by a hit and run driver…. the muffler had fallen off and the air conditioning system was making the thing run VERY sporadically.
    My new job was at a bank where most of the women were married or executives – so they had decent cars. I was neither and driving a clunker that my co workers actively teased me about.
    Leaving work one evening, in the mad rush outta there!, I was the first in line to pull out at the red light when my loud, smashed clunker DIED. I was so embarrassed I started to cry. I didn’t know what to do!
    Out of the blue my car began MOVING – I looked back and there was the new girl, so young and eager – pushing my car! so I turned the key by some weird intuition and was able to start the car and drive my humiliated self home.
    I will never, ever forget her kindness (nobody else could be bothered).
    “Pay It Forward” are words to live by.

  18. Phil Bolsta Says:

    We all have moments like that where we don’t know what to do and just want to cry, Shawna. It’s so wonderful when someone steps up and tries to help. That can make all the difference.

  19. rita silic Says:

    I’ve had many ‘nicest’ things happen to me but one that stands clear in my mind is twofold.
    As a young girl of 18 I found myself having a child and unmarried. Circumstances were such that I believed it best to place her into adoption for a chance at a better life rather than one I could have provided. 34 yrears passed; a miracle happened and we were reunited!
    Elated, I shared my great news with a client who had come into the store where I worked, she excited, too and left after her purchase. She returned an hour later informing me her husband, who was an airline pilot had made arraingments for a flight for me to meet my new found daughter, a week new grandson and a son-in-law! No strings…just doing something nice…
    The second part of this story has a nice thing that occured.
    When my daughter’s birthday came around, I went to look for that ‘perfect’ birthday card. Standing in front of the cards, it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks what I was doing! Buying a card for the child I never had hope of seeing much less having this opportunity. Tears stared flowing like rivers, makeup running and burning in my eyes and no tissues in my purse. I could not see. A shopper passed by and asked if she could help. I could hardly get the words out in explaination. Understanding, she helped select an approprate card, looking hard for ‘the one’ she said would offer the sentiments she thought I wanted to express. That done, she disappeared in the store! I was momentarily helpless and God was there in his angelic form! This kind of ‘nice’ comes along and there is no way you can repay…you can only pass it forward!

  20. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Those are wonderful stories, Rita! Thank you for sharing them. And I’m so glad to hear that you were reunited and found out that you were a grandmother!

  21. Jesme Chua Says:

    Heard of this story about this part time cleaner who cleans the house and one day the owners gave her a appreciation card. She was so touched and the family was so proud of her and even framed the card. Little act speaks loud.
    Once I gave this lady who cleans the toilet at the mrt station a box of cookies and you could see from her face that she was so touched by the act and keep thanking you like a innocent child. That makes my day not only hers.
    You can contact me at and here is my twitter link

  22. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thank you, Jesme. Yes, it’s the little things that touch people’s hearts!

  23. Jackie Rose Says:

    It’s hard to pick one, I feel like I am playing favorites…so here are a few stellar ones:

    -When I fell off a roof and was stuck in bed for a while, pumped full of painkillers, my little sister indulged all of my delirious ideas with such patience and kindness. She read me to sleep then slept on the floor by my bed in case I woke up and needed something.

    -When I graduated from college my Nana inscribed one of her favorite books and gave it to me. It was Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. She knew I loved poetry and we had talked many times about Whitman’s work.

    -In Indonesia after I was assaulted, I went to a local clinic seeking medical attention. A volunteer there saw the look on my face, and without knowing what had happened, she cared for me like I was her daughter. She held my hand, made sure I had food, and never left me alone unless I asked. She was so compassionate.

    -In Benin two friends and I were stuck for a few days without a way to leave the country as the borders were closed for elections. Two men who were also having trouble at the border took it upon themselves to see that we were well taken care of until the borders opened. They spent close to three hours driving through the dark, trying to find us a hotel, then met us for dinner the following day and drove us back to the border, and eventually across it, once the elections were over.

    There are so many other memories I could share! I keep thinking of ones in which someone appreciated my act of kindness, or just said thank you for doing whatever I did. Saying thank you is such a wonderful act of kindness.

  24. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thanks you, jackie Rose. We especially appreciate kindnesses when we’re in foreign territory of some sort or another and don’t know where else to turn. And it’s nice to hear another story of men being chivalrous and caring when women are in need.

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