Thursday, October 9, 2008

Still learning the lingo

Yesterday I stopped to get petrol (that's Aussie for gasoline) at a local petrol station. I filled my car with unleaded petrol at a price of $1.47 a litre (1 litres = 0.264172052 US gallons, 1.00 AUD
= 0.663374 USD--which is a lot of numbers meaning my petrol was equivalent to USD$3.68/gallon for those of you who might be interested...) then I went inside the petrol station to pay because as other expat bloggers have observed there is no paying at the pump here in Australia.

So in to the friendly petrol station I go and wait my turn in the queue (that's Australian for line). When I get to the counter the woman at the till (that's Australian for register) asks me which pump I was at and then proceeds to process my payment. While we are waiting for the little credit card slip to print out, she starts telling me a story--completely unsolicited. Normally the people behind the till at the petrol station don't engage in much conversation. If they do, it's usually the, "Nice day today. Beautiful weather." kind of niceties, but not a full story. So immediately I'm a bit thrown by this woman's behaviour.

Petrol Station Lady: "So there was a couple in this car..."

At this point I look at her confused and look out at my own car where my two children were patiently waiting for me and think she is making some reference to my kids or something. She senses my confusion and continues her story..

PSL: "There was an elderly couple here just before. They were in a blue Subaru at pump 6..."

Now I'm thinking she's going to ask me if I've seen the couple because I was at pump 5 just behind them. I'm wondering if they've driven off without paying or something.

She continues...

PSL: "They were both wearing stack hats."

I'm totally lost.

Me: "I'm sorry, what?"

PSL: "They were both wearing stack hats inside of their car."

Me: Looking confused, "I'm sorry, stack hats?"

PSL: Slightly exasperated, "Yeah, stack hats, you know bicycle helmets--they were wearing them inside the car. I've never seen that before."

Me: Finally making the connection--stack means to crash in Australia and so a stack hat would be a crash hat or a crash helmet in this case. I process this all and say, "Well perhaps it's not such a bad idea. I got petrol here a few weeks ago and then pulled out of your petrol station only to be hit by a P Plater two minutes down the road. They are obviously familiar with the area."

PSL: Horrified, "Oh my gosh, were you all right?"

Me: "Yes, we were all fine--I had my kids with me too."

PSL: Horrified further, "Oh your poor kids."

Me: "Yeah they were a bit scared, but everyone was okay."

PSL: "Well that's the important thing."

Me: "Yeah, so you can't be too careful really. I think those older people have just been around the block a few times and they know what they are doing. Don't doubt their stack hats!!"

When I get home later, I relate this story to the Handsome Australian. He has no idea what stack hats are either. I have to tell him. That's the thing about Aussie slang--there is so bloody much of it that even the Aussies who have lived here their whole lives don't know what half of it means. What hope is there for the rest of us?

Learn the Lingo
petrol = gasoline
queue = line
till = cash register
stack hats = crash helmets

6 comments:

Scintilla said...

Glad that it wasn't just me who had been away too long ! - stack hats??
I'm learning your American 'lingo' in your posts.

Nathalie said...

Woohoo, I knew that one. Finally an aussie term I am familiar with. And yes, unusual for a petrol attendant (or as Carol calls it, consolologist) to engage in conversation.

suzinoz said...

Scintilla--I hadn't thought about people learning the American lingo as well. Thanks for pointing that out =)

Nathalie-
Finally. You are actually Australian. In some small way. Yes!!!

Annelise said...

I got stuck that gas was only 3.68... was there something about a bike helpmet, I mean stack hat.

suzinoz said...

Yes Annelise, USD$3.68, but since the Australian dollar has tanked recently, this means the same gallon here costs me AUD$5.62--does that sound more like what you are paying?

Annelise said...

No, we are not paying that much yet... yet. :( But I was surprised to hear you say it was so low. I jsut assumed it would be out the roof there.