2/07/2011

Are Kiwis rude?

This is a question that I have been trying to answer since I arrived in New Zealand four and a half years ago. (You can click the 'rude kiwis' label to read my earlier posts on the subject)


For those who haven't followed the whole story, here's a quick recap:


Being from America, I tend to like Americans. What was 'normal' behavior for Americans, in my humble opinion, was (mostly) having strangers in the store or on the street make eye contact and smile. 
It was (mostly) courteous drivers who looked out for pedestrians. 
It was (mostly) people staying out of the walkways so others can easily maneuver around you. 
It was (mostly) those in places of respect and responsibility holding their tongue until they get the facts straight. 
It was (mostly) drivers allowing you to pull out of a parking space in safety, even if they didn't intend to use your space.
It was (mostly) courteous salespeople who smile and speak to you and act as if they know you are the reason they have a job.
It was (mostly) folks willing to do 'the dance' with you with a smile.[You know 'the dance'...that shuffle you both do back and forth, trying to decide who is going to which side so you can both get through a tight space, all the while looking at each other and smiling (or trying not to giggle)].


These things don't exist in any abundance in Taranaki. Here in Stratford, there is little tourism and thus, Hubby has been trying to convince me that it is in solely this area folk that are lacking American-style congenialities and not the country as a whole.When we go to other areas of this country, things are a bit more friendly, as Hubby is quick to point out. However, those are usually touristy places and, to me, it's logical PR to be nice to tourists.


Well, after our vacation holiday to the South Island, I am going to have to say that I believe he was right all along!


We stayed in Richmond (just south of the large city of Nelson) which has a population of about 15,000 (with lots of tourists staying the night and passing through). Of course, there was the world-wide obligatory summer road construction going on just outside the entrance to our rental but we never had a problem getting out in traffic because there was always a driver that let us out. I was gobsmacked.


I went shopping a couple of times at the local Pac N Save (huge chain store) and only once did I find a shopping cart trolley in the middle of the aisle unattended. The check out ladies were smiling and chatty. It was wonderful!!


In the parking lot, drivers patiently waited until others pulled away before getting into the abandoned spot--unlike Taranaki, where they would be in the spot before you could get the car out of 'reverse'.


In the mall (yes, an actual mall, not a string of 4 storefronts together), children were chided to behave. When Hubby spoke to a little girl of 3 or so that had bolted away from Mum, Mum smiled and spoke instead of giving Hubby 'the stare'.


One day, he also got actual comments on his t-shirt (it says 'save the planet, duct tape can't fix everything') for the first time in the 3 years he's been wearing it. 


I feel like we were in a different world for the time we were there. Maybe it was the size of the town. Maybe it was the 'touristy' mentality. Maybe it was other tourists who were the polite ones. I don't know.


But I do know that Hubby was impressed enough to put that area at the top of our list of possible places to move to when the kids get out of school. I can't say I blame him. And I certainly don't disagree.
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