New today was the Challenge service station on Opawa Road. We walked into the shop poised for the usual covert operation when lo and behold, a friend recognizes us. She had just flown into town. I’m sorry “Chylie” if we seemed awkward ...I think you even asked what we were up to and I had some kind of dumb answer for you; not wanting to blow our cover. I’ll make it up to you.

[I should mention here now, if it’s not already obvious from the title of the page, that yes, these investigations are carried out under cover.]

Either way, the hunt seemed headed for a dead end when we realize the target pie was not in stock. A very eager attendant offered to help by pulling some frozen choices from out back. This is the same tall lady we had seen pushing a stalled car up to the petrol pump minutes earlier. She was genuinely friendly & talkative. Her quiet post-teen coworker now seemed suspicious towards my phone (which shot off a couple flashes) and probably by our insistent questioning.

I’m reminded of a PSA video that pictures shopkeepers interacting with customer nonsense. Not that we were giggly, or stunned at all; I’m just reflecting on the fact that these merchants must deal with folks like that daily.

She held the door for us as we walked out.

Note: today was the 22nd of February, the fifth year anniversary of Christchurch’s devastating earthquake. If this had any bearing on people’s attitudes, then I can accept my observations are possibly not an accurate portrayal of their typical day.

I brought this pie home, thawing it for 5 hours before following the heating instructions the Challenge lady suggested… 1.5 minutes in microwave… 15 minutes in oven. The Pat’s Pantry brand Creamy Thai Chicken was a big hit with chunks of white meat in a mild yellow-green coconut curry. Costlier than the 10 neighboring Irvines pies; it was- $4.