This evening I got a good dose of food for thought along with my carry-out order of sushi.
I didn’t call ahead, so I had to spend a few minutes on a sofa by the front register. There was a little girl sitting at a table not too far from me. She was one of those adorable kids who you just want to run over and hug. A wild mass of blonde curls, wire rimmed glasses and a red tint to her nose that makes it seem she had spent this, one of the final days of summer, swimming in the afternoon sun. She seemed tired and restless. When her mother walked her back to the ladies room, she commented on the kimono that hung near the hallway as a decorative dividing curtain. Her mother told her that yes, it was pretty, but NOT to touch it. On the way back out she just couldn’t help herself, and as soon as her mother’s gaze drifted for a second, one of her little hands reached up and tugged at the sleeve. It immediately hit the floor. Her eyes got wide as her mother took her by the hand to the front of the restaurant to confess to the owner and offer an apology for what she had done. The owner, a Japanese lady who was probably near my own age, wasted no time in hunkering down to the little girls’ level and scooping her up in a warm hug. “I’m so sorry”, the lady offered. “No….. you don’t have to apologize to her. She grabbed it and it fell….” said the mother. “Oh, I understand. I saw the whole thing.” The owner now smiled to the little girl and went back to the register to answer the phone and take an order.
I watched this little girl, who was maybe all of 5 years old. She looked a bit confused, but she quietly went back to her seat, where she displayed her best manners for the remaining time I was there. She also kept glancing, and shyly smiling, at the lady who had shown her such mercy.