When I first moved to Lord Howe Island, I was confronted with a few quirky Island situations. I was never involved in any of these situations in Sydney, and I had to learn the ‘Island Way’ of how to react to them.
As we live on a very small Island with a very small population, you often run into the same person, multiple times on the same day in different locations. How do you interact with a person if you’ve already said ‘Hello, how are you?’ already?
This happened to me several times with the lady who runs the Airport Kiosk. Within the course of two hours, I saw her at the Airport, at Anchorage whilst I was buying bread, in the Post Office queue and at Joy’s Shop. Do you say ‘Hello, how are you?’ for the first encounter, and then think of something else to say each time you see them? Or do I not say ‘Hello’ on the second encounter? Is a nod of acknowledgement required? Are there are Island rules on this matter I’m not aware of?
Turns out, the Lord Howe way to react to such a situation is to treat the current encounter as the first of the day. You greet each person with a ‘Hello, how are you?’ like you haven’t seen them already. It appears most Island residents do this, and that’s how I’ve been greeted when others have seen me in multiple locations.
Another interaction I struggled with originally was with our Island Doctor. In Sydney, only seeing your doctor at their clinic and not out in the general population gives you a false sense that they aren’t actually real people, with real lives living outside their clinic walls.
On my first consultation with our Doctor I was delighted to have such a lovely man who would be there to help our family if we needed it. However, later that afternoon I ran into him on the beach while he was jogging. I felt awkward talking to him with my brain constantly yelling ‘you should be at the hospital’.
This was further exasperated when we both attended a local birthday party and I saw him drinking a beer! My brain kept yelling ‘why are you not at the hospital? What if somebody needs you? Should you be drinking that?’
I’ve since learned that the Island doctor is always contactable via a radio, is very responsible and well respected in our Island community. It took me a while, but I’m now comfortable seeing our Island doctor out and about. I love that they are a part of the community, and not confined to clinic walls as they were in my mind.