People here in Gisborne are nice. So nice, in fact, that we’ve had to consciously up our niceness game so we don’t come across as rude Americans. Even when ordering at a coffee shop, it’s not enough to just step forward, smile, and place your order. First you must genuinely check in with the barista, find out how her day is going, share with her how your day is going, then—and only then—do you place your order.

As an example, here is my word-for-word exchange from the coffee shop just the other day:

Barista: “Hi there, are you having a nice day today?”

Me: “I sure am, how about you?”

Barista: “It’s really been a good one, especially with the cooler weather out.”

Me: “Yeah, it’s really nice.”

Barista: “So what brings you to Gisborne? Let me guess, you’re Canadian?”

Me: “No, actually I’m from Alabama.”

Barista: “Oh, like Forrest Gump!”

Me: “Exactly!”

Barista: “That’s so cool! So what can I get you today? A box of chocolates?”

Needless to say, she earned a nice tip for that one.