I’ve heard of Minnesota Nice and North Dakota Kind, but what about South Dakota?
Todd Kurtz, a former South Dakotan, says for him, the name Bob is synonymous with kindness in that great state.
“We flew into Pierre last year, and as we exited the plane with the other 10-15 passengers, my wife was rolling with laughter because everyone getting off the plane was saying ‘Hi’ (with a very thick Midwestern accent) to an employee named Bob. ‘Hi-ya Bob,’ ‘Oh yah, hey there Bob, how’s ya doin?’ Bob returned the joyful banter.
"My wife and I told this story a half-dozen times over the weekend, embellishing the accent while laughing over this movie-like Scandinavian dialogue. Everyone getting off that plane knew Bob and everyone sounded like they were auditioning for the movie 'Fargo'!
"Three days later it was time to fly out of Pierre. At the airport, a friendly man behind the desk at United Airlines sorrowfully informed us that our flight was delayed by two hours, meaning we would miss our connecting flight. We couldn’t be mad, as this guy was overly helpful in finding us a new flight home to Albuquerque. As this man finalized our new flights with an infectious South Dakotan spirit of being happy to help, I saw his name tag. This was Bob.
"And now the story gets good.
"Two hours later, I walk to TSA and I don’t have my ID or my wallet! Panicking, I realize I left it at my aunt’s house and with no Uber or taxi in this small town, I have no way to get it. The flight is leaving in 30 minutes.
"Bob sees what’s going on, comes over and with no hesitation tells me to take his truck. ‘It’s in employee parking, an old 1996 blue Chevy, keys are in it.’
"'What? I can’t take your truck Bob.'
"'Sure you can, no problem, what other choice do we have?' and then his tone switches to thick sarcasm as he says, 'Just don’t scratch it. I’ll let TSA know you’ll be right back.'
"For some reason I’m the one uncomfortable about this, not Bob, as a complete stranger is going to leave in his truck. I find the blue truck, yep it’s unlocked, and yep the keys are on the seat right where Bob said they’d be.
"I moved away from the Dakotas seven years ago. I don’t miss the cold, I don’t miss the mosquitos, but I sure miss the people like Bob, who saw a person in trouble and no questions asked, did whatever he could to help me out.
"I got the wallet and got back to the airport just in time. As I was catching my breath at the gate, I saw Bob greeting everyone getting off the flight that had just arrived. And yes, most knew and said hi to Bob with a thick, healthy South Dakotan accent. Being a recipient of Bob’s kindness, I hope they always do."
I love hearing your stories of kindness! Please continue to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com.
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.