Sometimes the prospect of world travel can be so overwhelming. What if we can’t understand what anyone is saying, commit some heinous cultural faux paus, or people are mean to us because we’re tourists? Landing down in a new place can certainly be daunting, but there have been so many examples of kindness that we’ve decided to start sharing our experiences in a new series. You guessed it: Stories of Kindness.
Our first story comes to you from Tokyo, one of the world’s largest cities and one that can set your head a-spinnin’ with its many wards and some thirteen million people. We had just finished visiting Yoyogi Park and were on our way to our last dinner before setting out for Fuji the next day.
That’s when Eric spotted it: A Garrett Popcorn shop. We didn’t even know they had one in Tokyo! Those of you from Chicago (or who have ever tried this popcorn) will appreciate what a big deal this is. For loyal Garrett Popcorn enthusiasts, there is no better snack in the world.
But it seemed we weren’t the only people in Tokyo who had caught Garrett Fever. The line to get in snaked all the way down the block, and the wait time was more than an hour.
Feeling too hungry to wait for so long, we decided to go for dinner first and try again later. Indeed, when we returned the queue was much more manageable. But then they were closing, and the not-so-friendly Garrett representative told us that we wouldn’t make it in time. I tried to reason with him. I tried to explain that Eric is from Chicago and we’ve been away for a long time so this is a big deal, but he seemed completely immune to my beseeching.
Unwilling to give up so easily, we approached a young man at the front of the line (whose English happened to be very good) and asked him if he’d pick up a bag of cheesy popcorn for us too. He agreed, on the condition that we watch his car. Watch his car, we asked? Seems he was illegally parked across the street so that he could wait in an hour-long line for popcorn. Yes, it really is that good.
No problem, we said. If you’re getting towed we’ll let you know right away. The stars aligned, the police stayed away, and fifteen minutes later he emerged with not one – BUT TWO – bags of popcorn for us. The second one, you see, was his treat. Welcome to Tokyo, he says.
Throughout our time in Japan we found that people there are consistently generous and welcoming. This particular act of kindness meant that we’d be able to enjoy Garrett Cheesy Popcorn on top of Mount Fuji. It made Eric’s day.
World travel is always full of eye-opening encounters, some good and some bad. But it’s experiences like this that motivate us to keep exploring and to pay it forward whenever we can. You never know – even the smallest act of kindness can make a difference.