Guilt-ridden pasta

I was almost done eating my salad at La Tavola, where I went for lunch today, when I realized I’d forgotten my wallet at home.

The perks of living in a small town and being an easily recognizeable regular are that people are very gracious and merciful. I went to tell the server, a really sweet woman who always scans the day’s menu to inform me which items are and aren’t vegetarian, that I’d forgotten. She had a really concerned look at my expression and tone, but at “saifu wo wasuremashita” (I forgot my wallet), her concern dissolved instantly. I told her I’d be back in about 20 minutes with my wallet and went to grab my keys from my bag, and she stopped me at the door and insisted that I sit down, eat, and come back and pay later. She had me write down my name and number when I finished my meal. I’d known they probably would let me do that, but it was still really embarrassing and I felt really guilty. Oh, well–better here than in the US, where they would’ve made me wash dishes or something.

I went back in the early evening, wallet in hand this time, and we chatted for a bit. I let her know that I was leaving this summer, and we talked a bit more, and I left feeling a little sadder than I did when I’d arrived. Having to go around town and make these announcements to the different restaurant owners and clerks and so on is really cementing it–and I’m now under 2 months away from the end.

I’ve decided that I want to go around during my last few weeks and try to thank as many people around town as possible–the high school girl with the really calming voice and manner at Daily Mart, the “arigite gozaimasu” woman at Sunshine who always gives me a big smile, the man in the bedding store who nods and waves at me, the owner of the stationery store, the older woman who owns the earthenware store on my street, the sweet girl with the slight stutter at the organic bakery, the ladies at the train station ticket counter…and many more. They’re a big part of why I’ve come to really love this town, and why I’ve really had such a great time here. Even when I’m feeling burned out and not really up for conversation (which has been quite often lately), it’s just nice to know there are all these friendly presences around town.

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