‘Hick’ la­bel sure to raise hack­les

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE AUCKLAND - RACHAEL KELLY

‘‘Do you mind if I ask a ques­tion?’’ the woman at the counter asks.

The shop is do­ing a roar­ing trade in hang­over-cur­ing pies and milk­shakes.

Farm work­ers stand in an un­orderly queue, cov­ered in an­i­mal poo, their gum­boots aban­doned by the door.

‘‘What do you ac­tu­ally do here?’’ she asks, look­ing slightly down her nose at one of the shep­herds, per­haps notic­ing his woollen socks are giv­ing off a bit of a pong.

The shiny Audi peo­ple-mover parked up with the mud-cov­ered utes out­side and the Prada hand­bag are a bit of give-away that she’s not from these parts.

Her GPS prob­a­bly got her lost on the way to some flash high­coun­try lodge we sur­mise, giv­ing her the once over.

The hack­les rise. The lo­cals don’t like be­ing thought of as hicks.

‘‘Well,’’ says one, ‘‘just here we have a jour­nal­ist, a vet, an agri­cul­tural con­trac­tor, a cou­ple of shep­herds with univer­sity de­grees and a small busi­ness owner.

‘‘On any given night in the pub across the road you could also be hav­ing a drink with some sta­tion own­ers, a cou­ple of ac­coun­tants, a lawyer, some live­stock sales­peo­ple, a real es­tate sales­man, three teach­ers, an en­gi­neer, truck driv­ers and their bosses, a plumber and a sparky.

‘‘We also have fully-qual­i­fied first re­sponse paramedics and vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers. We might be a long way from your city, but we’re not dumb.

‘‘There’s prob­a­bly more qual­i­fied peo­ple in this town than there are in your apart­ment block, and you wouldn’t need to sell a kid­ney to af­ford that drink in the first place,’’ he says.

She’s look­ing a bit dumb­founded, but con­tin­ues to try and un­der­stand why on earth these ru­ral folk seem to be liv­ing on an­other planet.

One she’s def­i­nitely not fa­mil­iar with, that’s for sure.

‘‘But don’t you get bored here? There’s no beaches, no cafes! What do you do for fun?’’ she asks, dig­ging her­self a deeper hole.

‘‘We have a cafe and a pub we prob­a­bly fre­quent a bit too much. But we also have a rugby club, a golf club, a squash club and a preschool for the mums and kids. The older ladies have a craft group and a cof­fee group, there’s an art group and a group that are run­ning their own movie theatre.

‘‘And if that’s not enough to do, we go hunt­ing and fish­ing and mo­tor­bike rid­ing and four-wheel driv­ing - and if that gets bor­ing, we just go and visit peo­ple for a yarn,’’ he says.

‘‘Well, I think you’re very brave to live some­where like this,’’ she re­torts.

‘‘It’s kind of quaint. I’m not sure I’d han­dle it, but my money is all tied up in prop­erty so it wouldn’t be an op­tion for me,’’ she says, grab­bing her triple-shot-soy­latte in a take­away cup, flounc­ing out of the shop to­wards the Audi.

‘‘Thank god for that,’’ he says, and ev­ery­one agrees and car­ries on with their day, do­ing what­ever it is you do in a town like this.

Dis­miss­ing peo­ple as hicks based on their ap­pear­ance is not the smartest thing to do.

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