The hair salon was nestled in the middle of Korea Town, but its name was Japanese. Outside the window, I could see the colorful League of Legends characters on the cybercafe’s storefront across the street. Every time the door opened, the smell of grilled beef made my stomach growl a little. The restaurant around the corner must have been preparing the lunch menu.
It was a rainy day, but the salon was far from empty. Most of the customers seemed like regulars; they all chatted about their lives with their hair stylist in Japanese or Korean, like good high-school friends would do. My Japanese stylist, on the other hand, spoke softly while running scissors through my hair. She said she had moved from Nagoya to Toronto when she married a Canadian man two years ago. When I complimented her English since her accent was barely noticeable, she smiled shyly.
Soon my hair went from a shoulder-length colossal mess to a short layered bob – a style someone who isn’t used to Asian hair texture can royally screw up. Her coloring was also even and on point, with no spills or smudges. After several months of hating looking into the mirror every morning, finally I felt like I was back to my usual self. I hadn’t had any luck finding Asian-owned hair salons in my new neighborhood; I wondered if I had to fly or drive to Toronto for a haircut every six months.
Then when I tried to pay the bill, my US debit card refused to cooperate with their Canadian terminal. I ended up running to the nearest ATM to withdraw cash in the rain, and when I got back to the salon, I was surprised to find my hair stylist standing there, opening the door for me with a fresh towel in her hand. She apologized profusely, although it wasn’t her fault at all. It was the good old hospitality that I vaguely remembered from back when I was young and still lived in Japan.
For a split second, I imagined how she would open the door for her husband when he came back home. I felt happy and jealous for the man.