Wednesday morning kindness


Dear Stranger,
Dear lovely foreign woman whom I met in Starbucks,

I noticed you and your two blonde angels
as I passed through the intersection at
the top of Motomachi Shopping Street.

I was in a hurry to get to school.

This is my fifth year in Japan and I
no longer seek out other foreigners.
I think I’m Japanese which is a strange
identity disorder for a round,
pink Canadian to have developed.

When you first spoke to me in line, I was
silently chanting “Chai tea. Chai tea” and
hoping not to blurt out “tai chi” like the
last time I ordered a drink at Starbucks.

You said you liked my trousers and were they
from Japan? “No. Ottawa. I’m from there.”

And it took me a moment to process
that you had given me a compliment.

I’m one of those crazy people who tells
girls: “It is not your job to be pretty.”
Some people suffer from a limited
ability to understand these words.
They think I’m saying women should not be
pretty or that it’s bad to take pride in
ones appearance. I’m not. It’s so very
hard to illuminate a problem that
we stare at every day but never see.

It means I don’t get many compliments.

But you gave me one. Thank you very much.

And then you mentioned the cool design of
Japanese workers’ trousers. How you’d like
to do a photo essay about them.
And I agree. They look just like rock stars.

I was next to order. Breathe. “Chai tea, please.”
Then out the door and up the hill to work.

I should have asked your name. I should have told
you mine, given you my card. I’m Monna.
Thank you for your Wednesday morning kindness.


  1. This touched my heart. Oh, the many layers to these lives of ours. The honesty and authenticity in which you view the world and write about it are truly breathtaking and deeply intimate. Thank you.

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