Even though I'm in the metropolis of Auckland, I'm still surrounded by Kiwi politeness.
You know you're in the big city, because there's honking of horns. This morning, standing at the side of the street, waiting for a taxi, I heard such a honk. I turned around because, having lived in New Zealand for almost a year, it was a most unfamiliar sound. Surely something awful must have happened. I turned around in time to see the honker - the guy in the second car - raising both hands in apology to the woman in the first car and then pointing, again with both hands and with raised shoulders, at the green light. Clearly he'd been waiting for a while. But still he was sorry at having been forced to such drastic measures. The woman responded in kind, lowering her window and waving her apology.
Clearly not a Kiwi sign. (Sorry, but how else to illustrate a post about politeness?)
Then in a coffee shop, after a long business meeting, the fellow I was chatting with, asked "Is it OK if shoot off now?"
Bear in mind, this was not a 14-year-old asking if he could be excused from the dinner table. This was a pretty high-powered guy.
I looked at him and said, "I've never been asked that before. No, you must stay."
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said. "It's just that I've got a few things to take care of."
This from a guy who took the time, while on vacation, to come out and meet me.
Having been thus cruelly blown off, I again found myself standing on the side of the road, again waiting for a taxi. I was checking my email and had my back to the traffic. Something made me turn around. You know that feeling you get when someone's staring at you. Turns out I was standing at a crosswalk, and a lady had stopped her car and was waiting for me to cross.
I've no idea how long she'd been stopped. Getting into the spirit of the day, and not wanting to be rude, I naturally waved my apology. And crossed the road. I didn't need to be on the other side of the road. In fact, the cab was picking me up right where I'd been. So, once she was safely out of sight, I immediately crossed back.
Think of the cruel irony had I been run over doing so.
The only outrageously rude blemish on my day occured at the offices of another appointment I had. I checked in at the counter. The woman asked me my name - politely, of course. I gave it to her and she quickly printed out a visitor's badge.
It read, "Adrian Bratt."
I looked at her and said, "But we've only just met. Why would you call me that?"
"Oh, I'm crap at spelling," she said. "There's just so many options."
There really isn't any comeback from that. So, for the rest of my meeting I remained, politely, a bratt.
Hey, when in New Zealand ...