No bother | April 8, 2021

A woman fainted during Kyle’s Good Friday church service last week.  If you are in need of attention there are few places as convenient as a packed Easter Mass; a dozen doctor and nurse parishioners jumped to her aid, followed closely by the three priests – who stopped what they were doing and began to pray over her.  One of the priests left his microphone on so that everyone could join in the prayer; which must have worked, as she revived moments later.

“Oh, Father, I’m fine,” she said loudly enough to pick up on the mic.  “Just keep going with the service.”

If there’s one thing North Dakotans cannot abide by, it’s to be a bother.  (If there’s a second thing, it’s a salad bar without ranch dressing; although no one will ever complain about it so as to avoid being a nuisance.)  I don’t know if it’s humility or modesty or manners or grit, but North Dakotans will avoid things like standing up, sitting down, walking, eating, sleeping, or disturbing Easter Mass if it means another person will be slightly inconvenienced.  I was freezing my butt off at my son’s hockey game not too long ago, and another one of the moms – an actual friend of mine, mind you, not some stranger from amidst the shadows – offered up a sweatshirt that was in her car.

“No, no,” I said, waving her off, “It’s too far to go outside.” (Narrator: It wasn’t.)

The other mom insisted, running at intermission to grab both a sweatshirt and a blanket.  I took the sweatshirt with the mental note to repay her kindness with an appropriately equal response, like sending her firstborn off to college or repainting her house –

Because while no one wants to be a bother, everyone wants to be a help.

There’s no better proof of this than after a snowstorm.  At the first mention of a blizzard warning, North Dakota collectively tosses a shovel in its trunk so as to be ready to dig strangers out of drifts.  (And, of course, seventy-five percent of those strangers will wave off assistance so as to not waste someone else’s time.)

In the case of my husband’s fellow churchgoer, after she ordered her caretakers to move her to the vestibule so that services could resume while she waited for the incoming ambulance, a team of people jockeyed to be in the group to help her up, and those left behind kept popping into the lobby to check on her.

A couple of years ago, Kyle was driving through town when he passed a gentleman, hunched over from osteoporosis, attempting to carry two arms’ worth of groceries.  Kyle flipped the truck around to offer assistance; and found himself in a game of chicken with a bunch of other drivers who had the same idea.  Kyle beat them all to the man (winner winner!), and asked if he could give him a ride somewhere.  The fellow started to say no – he didn’t want to be any trouble – but realized that there was a literal line of people (including a policewoman) looking to lend a hand.  Kyle and the policewoman had a polite standoff – “Oh, I’m happy to take him,” “Me, too, really, it’s no problem.” – until they drew proverbial straws, Kyle won, and the others had to go off and find some other do-gooding to do while Kyle drove the man home.

One of my favorite stories on this topic is actually my mother’s.  Unsurprisingly, it happened during the Flood of ’97 – which tried to wash Grand Forks off the map, and instead filled its coffers with memories of above-and-beyond kindnesses.

On the day we ultimately ended up evacuating, my family was up with the sun to walk the dike.  The sandbags were starting to heave, and so my dad used the radio he had been given to call for help.  The neighborhood came over to start throwing sandbags, but by noon there were too many cracks and not enough people. Finally, an entire busload of people showed up and immediately jumped in to stay the water.

“Where have you been?”  My mom asked the man in line next to her.

“Lincoln Park,” the man said.  “I just watched my house go under.”

My mom stopped and looked at him.  “What on earth are you doing here?”

“No bother,” he shrugged.  “Maybe I can help save yours.”

The photo above was taken a few years ago during a two-day blizzard.  We were on our way to town when we came upon an elderly man stuck up to his wheel wells in the snow.  Despite the gentleman’s feeble protests that he was fine, Kyle started to dig him out.  He didn’t get more than two shovelfuls in when two other vehicles – the only other two on the road – stopped to lend a hand.  One was our mailman, and the other was from a local vodka distillery.  “Neither snow nor rain nor empty shot glasses stays our fellow man,” I told Kyle later (I’m not sure he found that all that amusing).  As you can see by the photo, I didn’t get out of the car “so that I could keep an eye on the kids.”

I love, love all of the messages you’ve been sending me.  If you have a “No bother” story, please share it.  And don’t forget to check out this week’s news – about healthy families, a new kidney, and a garden of healing.  Read on.

A number of people in Grand Forks probably owe their lives to their friendly neighborhood mailman, who banged on doors and helped out residents when a 12-unit condo complex started on fire. (Grand Forks Herald)

If you’re looking for some good goose-watching, head on out to North Dakota’s largest National Wildlife Refuge, located near Upham, ND. (Minot Daily News)

Richardton’s Missi Baranko started a new non-profit just days after the shutdown of Lutheran Social Services to make sure that Healthy Families – now USpireND – continued to serve its families. (Grand Forks Herald)

Logan Schonert, Captain of the Grand Forks Fire Department, has received the North Dakota VFW Firefighter of the Year award for donating a kidney to his former co-worker, Grand Forks Battalion Fire Chief Rick Aamot. (Fargo Forum)

Gackle’s Sydney Kleingartner and Jamestown’s Carmen Entzminger are North Dakota’s Dairy Ambassadors. (News Dakota)

Cameron Bolton’s parents are proposing a Garden of Healing to bring beauty and peace to Fargo recipients and donor families impacted by organ donation. (KVRR)

Happy 100th birthday to Garrison’s Alice Meier! (KX Net)

In good news, traveling nurse Helene Neville has finished chemo in style, thanks to what she called “North Dakota nice.” (KX Net)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out this other story about fishing.)

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