Not long after meeting my partner Suzanne who lives in New Zealand, I developed the daily habit of reading the online edition of the New Zealand Herald newspaper. I thought it would be a great way to learn more about Suzanne’s country. Now she actually teases me about knowing more about what is going on in her own country than she does. While it has been a good way to learn about New Zealand, it has on occasion produced some humorous moments.
It seems according to the paper that there has been a rash of dairy robberies in New Zealand recently. I was somewhat mystified by that. My paternal grandfather owned and operated a small independent dairy when I was a child. Based on that I couldn’t begin to fathom what would make them such an attractive target for armed robberies. I had visions of a criminal arriving in a gleaming tanker truck, jumping out brandishing a firearm, and telling a hapless dairy farmer, “This is a stickup – give me all the milk and no one gets hurt.”
I’d been meaning to ask Suzanne for a long while about the disturbing popularity of dairy robberies and what she made of it before I finally remembered to bring it up. I was met by a sudden outburst of laughter. Once she was able to compose herself sufficiently to stop laughing she patiently explained that the dairies I had read about being robbed from time to time are not the dairy farms I had in mind. Instead a dairy in New Zealand is what Americans would call a convenience store – a place where you can buy bread, fizzy drinks, lollies (Kiwi for candy), and well…milk. She assured me that it wasn’t necessary to wear gumboots when visiting a dairy nor was there any risk of stepping in cow poo.
Obviously I have much to learn about the Kiwi version of English. I didn’t really need the dairy robberies gaffe. After all it isn’t as if Suzanne doesn’t already get heaps of entertainment from my lame attempts at pronouncing New Zealand place names that have Māori origins. Oh well. At least I keep her laughing and that’s always a good thing isn’t it?