Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Giving Aucklanders a bad name

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In 2002 I spent a year studying journalism at the University of Canterbury. And I kind of dined out on being a 'typical' Aucklander. Photo / Thinkstock
In 2002 I spent a year studying journalism at the University of Canterbury. And I kind of dined out on being a 'typical' Aucklander. Photo / Thinkstock

Having lived in Auckland for twenty years now, I've decided I can officially call myself an Aucklander.

I grew up in Hawkes Bay and spent about eight years studying and working in Wellington so this wasn't a decision I took lightly. I know how Aucklanders are viewed by the rest of the country.

In 2002 I spent a year studying journalism at the University of Canterbury. And I kind of dined out on being a 'typical' Aucklander.

When I asked for directions to Lake Tekapo at a petrol station on the main road, I rearranged my Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses on top of my flicky Ponsonby haircut and said gratuitously: "I'm an Aucklander, you know." It had shades of the "I'm a lady, you know" catchphrase from yet-to-be-broadcast Little Britain.

I felt that admitting to being JAFA meant any expectations people had of me were instantly lowered. It was the perfect 'out'.

As an Aucklander I was struck by the way the city of Christchurch came to a virtual halt when the Crusaders played. It was as if it was the only gig in town.

"Are you going to the game?" asked the supermarket lady as I deftly dodged bunches of red and black balloons hovering above the checkout lane.

Not being a rugby follower, I wasn't even aware there was 'a game'.

Later that day I was journalistically covering a council meeting. I was so busy laboriously recording the goings-on with my embryonic shorthand that I hadn't noticed the entire council, mayor included, had come down with a dose of the Crusaders. They were a sea of red and black. There were themed scarves, crazy hats, flags - probably bunting, too. Clearly, there was just the one gig in town.

Three days before Easter 2002 I purchased a pair of jeans and took them to be shortened at an alteration place in Merivale. I'd hoped to wear these jeans back home for the upcoming long weekend and as I went to the counter I silently told myself that I must not be an Auckland tosser during this interaction.

But self-talk is not a winning strategy for me because when the woman told me the simple hemming would take a week I just couldn't help myself.

"Well, I come from Auckland and in Auckland they do it while you wait," I said. I did. That is what I said.

Little did I realise that, instead of quite correctly writing me off as a piece of work, this Merivale woman was of the bring-it-on-girlfriend persuasion.

"Well, we can do it in an hour, too," she said.

And I was like: "Well, I don't need it in an hour but two days would be nice."

So I got my jeans shortened in time but the moral of this story is threefold.

One: Cantabrians are staunch; underestimate them at your peril.

Two: You can take a woman out of Parnell but you can't take a Parnell attitude out of a woman.

And three: If you're wondering where the much-maligned Aucklander gets its bad name from it's probably thanks to people just like me.

Sorry about that.

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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