When Italian Luca Cicioni was told not to come back to his temp job as a forklift driver after having greeted a female manager with a casual "hi darling" one couldn't help but wonder if it was a moment lost in translation.
The whole truth may never be known, as the company at the centre of it never told its side of the story, but at the time Mr Cicioni expressed his disbelief at how his casual use of the term of endearment could have gone so wrong.
"I was just trying to be nice."
In fact in his Italian hometown, ciao caro - hi dear/darling - is a fairly common choice of words albeit more in a casual rather than professional environment.
But, despite his wrong choice of words, Mr Cicioni landed on his feet as his fellow Italians came to the rescue and gave him a job at Gina's Italian Kitchen, a flamboyant Auckland restaurant that was probably more suited to his regular use of endearing words.
"Gina's was the best job ever," he said. "I can scream happy birthday for the customer, or take off the T-shirt, or just do what you want to, it's not really a formal restaurant.
"Hi darling was okay."
When the Herald spoke to Mr Cicioni, he had left his job at Gina's to continue his travels, firstly to Samoa before returning to New Zealand.
Mr Cicioni had been touring the South Island, working in orchards and making the most of the New Zealand sun before heading back to Italy in time for the European summer mid-2016.
While he was yet to be rehired as a forklift driver, he still hoped to be before leaving the country.
But Mr Cicioni said he'd hold good memories of the country.
"New Zealand is the best place ever, behaviour of people is nice, not dangerous, the roads are good, everything is perfect, best place to make a family - but it's so far from the world."