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“Mi casa es su casa.” “What are friends for?” “My pleasure” — these are all sayings we use to express our gratitude to those we know. But what about the people we don’t know?

If life in Japan has taught me anything, it’s that in the recent Tohoko-Pacific disasters the world was ready to step up and ask what it could do and, in this humanity, show us how we can help each other.

Day to day, should it be any different?

Recently I had a day trip from Nagoya to Osaka to attend a conference. I was worried as a typhoon was set to hit the Kansai and Chubu region the same day.

It was raining hard when I left and, of course, I took my umbrella. But when I stopped to buy my Shinkansen ticket at the JR office, I left my umbrella there. Of all days.

Strange at it sounds, I can often wish and weirdly, as if on cue, my wishes come true. So I put it to work. I wished that someone would leave his or her umbrella and that I would pick it up.

The train was not that crowded, but there were plenty of umbrellas. Sitting across from me was a young woman and I noticed that her umbrella matched her pants — a kind of a fine gray plaid. And sure enough, when she got up, one stop before mine, she left her umbrella.

There it was. I had it. Just as the doors opened, though, I touched her arm, startling her. “Sumimasen, chotto, kasa!”

She looked at me with much gratitude and kindness. It was a nice umbrella. While I was happy to see that my wishpower had worked, the feeling of helping a stranger felt so much better. And as it turned out, when I arrived at the conference hotel — just across the street from the station — I did not need the umbrella.

We all need to feel the need to help others. Random acts of kindness may be not so random.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

patrice pendell

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