Being in South Dakota means I get to be surrounded by wide-open spaces. Most of those spaces are fields that grow the food my family and I so often take for granted.
But not today. Today I am grateful for the woman who sent in this story, who has spent countless hours working in the bubble of a combine harvester to make sure the crops get out of the fields in time for winter.
"Harvest 2020 is in full swing here in northwest Iowa. I have the privilege of being a full-time farmer’s wife for a part-time farmer. Our neighbors to the north have a much larger operation than we have, so for the last six years, they have hired me to help with getting their crops out of the field.
"They have me running one of the combines, a Case IH 9240 with a 40-foot head. This machine is by no means small and it gets a lot of acres on it as well as a lot of grain run through it. And guess what, breakdowns happen. Usually, one of the guys or myself can figure out the issue and get back up and running in no time at all. Not this time.
"The field service tech from the local dealer had to be called out. Now mind you, I have been broken down for probably 30 minutes and none of us could get it working and the service tech, if he was at the shop, was a good 20 miles away. Even though repairs are part of harvest, it seems the longer a machine is down, the higher the frustration and tensions build.
"This is where my kindness story starts. Under pressure to problem-solve, repair, get the machine up and running and doing it all in the shortest amount of time possible, the service tech, Tyler, shows up.
"I can not imagine being the guy who shows up in the middle of hundreds of farmers’ crises time after time. However, every time Tyler shows up, he always has a smile on his face and encouragement in his words. It instantly lowers the stress level of being broken down.
"Wouldn’t you know it, I was up in my combine in no time, working again going back and forth in the field.
"Some years, Tyler shows up earlier than others. This year he showed up after about 2,500 acres were out. Not only is he good at what he does, but his positive energy that leaks through his smile and his encouraging words are priceless.
"Months from now I may not remember the exact reason he had to come out, but I will remember years from now the smile he left on my face."
Thank you to the many farmers who put in countless hours day after day to make sure the crops were harvested exactly when they need to be. I am grateful for your kindness and for the kindness of those who keep you running.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.