It finally happened. It HAD to happen sooner or later, and yet, it was still a shock. Today - for the first time in New Zealand - someone was....Rude. Now, I'm sure this incident was not the first discourteous moment in the whole history of New Zealand (although I suppose it's possible), but it was the first evidence that I have personally witnessed of unprofessional kiwi behavior.
Although in America I am totally accustomed to grocery check-out clerks texting, swearing, discussing the most intimate aspects of their personal lives with each other while ringing up my purchases (and once even questioning the paternity of my child!) that simply does NOT happen here. Kiwi grocery clerks are tidily dressed in perfectly matching uniforms. They smile at me, greet me, focus completely on the task at hand, speaking to no one else while efficiently bagging my groceries and sending me off with a friendly goodbye.
While in the States there is nothing terribly unusual about a waitress showing some frustration when I request a new beverage at time she considers "inconvenient", Kiwi waitresses almost can make one believe that they are excited to refresh your drink. The smiles are that big! And there is no tipping in New Zealand - they get paid the same whether they smile or not.
So today a lady called my home from a venue that Richard is trying to reserve for youth group events. She crisply informed me that the venue was not available on the date he had requested. When I inquired about alternative dates, her tone sunk from sour to disgusted. She refused to answer my question because she believed her position was "CLEARLY stated on the circular, which you should have read, and there are NO EXCEPTIONS." Yikes. Maybe she just got back home to NZ after a trip to New York or something.
For the record, today's blog post is NOT about the one rude lady, but about the hundreds of polite ones. It is just so pleasant to go about your daily errands here. Not only are professionals, well, professional, but they try to talk you out of spending too much money in their store! If you are going to buy the $200 vacuum, they'll passionately implore you to just buy the $175 model, insisting that the more expensive one has too many features that you'll never need.
While I strongly feel that New Zealand could benefit very much from importing some American practices, particularly those involved in the "delicious-food-creating" industries, there is no doubt that NZ traditions do have something to offer in return. I might even argue that theoretically, what you sell is less important than how you sell it. I might. But then I think about the way that American milk tastes. And ice cream. And frankly, I want the best of both worlds.