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Be willing to help because you’ve been helped

May 31, 2023

Sometimes I read something that makes me smile and warms my heart. I print it or cut it out and save it in a file that I look at on days when the world is a little darker or hope may be a little harder to conjure up. As I looked in my "good news" file a few months ago, I found a small slip of paper cut from a weekly newspaper that I want to share with you. I hope the person who wrote it, doesn't mind. I would ask her but I don't know who she is.

This gold nugget was printed in a small town newspaper, in the section for "Thank Yous." It was a simple thank you that read, "I just wanted to give thanks to the people who rushed to help push me out of the snow on the railroad tracks Thursday, Dec. 22. Please let me know if there is something I can help you with. (Signed) Michelle" (followed by her cellphone number).

As I said, I don't know who Michelle is. I’m not even certain if it was her body that needed pushing out of the snow or if it was a vehicle that got hung up on the snowy railroad tracks from the information the note gives, but I love the fact that she wanted the anonymous "good deeders" to know how much she appreciated it. She appreciated it so much that she made a blanket offer to help and she publicly gave her cellphone number. It was a risky move to publish her cellphone number. I’ve almost called her a hundred times.

I know the thank you was meant for those who helped her on that December day, but she seemed so sincere in her offer to help and it was such an open offer, that I have often muttered, "I should call Michelle."

"I should call Michelle" has become a household slogan in our home when something isn't going quite right. For example, when I find I’ve run out of vanilla extract in the middle of mixing up cookies, I’ve mumbled the phrase. When my husband and I have been at a standstill in a discussion with opposing viewpoints, the tension has been broken by "we should call Michelle." When I had a flat tire on my car, I instinctively mentally called Michelle before I called a tire service. She has been conjured up for things like hang nails, weedy flowerbeds, and dirty kitchen floors.

The name "Michelle" has come to represent helpfulness and innocence. In a day and age when we work so hard to maintain any kind of privacy and we tend to close ourselves off from our neighbors, Michelle publishes her cellphone number and is there to remind us that she will help us with something if we let her know and she is grateful for help she has been given.

I didn't really mean to, but I have memorized Michelle's cellphone number. I have no intention of ever calling her. I often wonder, though, if anyone has. Perhaps those who helped her on that snowy day before Christmas have cashed in on their good deed. Perhaps there are others who read the thank you with the interpretation I did, that here is someone who is willing to help because she has been helped. Isn't that a great way to live? After all, we have all been helped along the way. We should be like Michelle and make known our willingness to help others too.

I will probably never meet the Michelle from this "thank you" printed in a small town newspaper, but I have met like-minded people – grateful people, people who say thank-you, people who offer to help where they are needed. These people may have different names and they haven't perhaps printed their cellphone numbers and offers of help to a broad community in a newspaper, but they are out there.

And so as I sat down to write this column during this busy spring season with the fear of missing my looming deadline, I jokingly thought, "I should call Michelle. She will help me."

And you know what? In a way, she did!

Daily Ag News and Market information from across the midwest.

Doreen Rosevold is a humorist/columnist from Mayville, ND.

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