Hello again my dear reader,
yesterday, I had a very “interesting” time getting home from work. It provoked some thinking about what Bermuda is really like. So, this is going to be a post that future expats that come to Bermuda should read to get the real scoop behind the island.
Bermudians pride themselves on being friendly and helpful people. Most of the time, this is definitely right. I have had to ask for directions a few times in Bermuda and, almost without fail, I got the help that I needed and then some. People here do seem to care about helping others. And, they usually do it with a smile on their faces, not a frown as if it was compulsory.
Having said that, the other day I was trying to get home after work. Since I’ve already sold my bike, I had to get the bus. Usually, the buses are just bearable, almost on time and not too crowded. This one time, it was different. I was getting my ticket from the counter at the central bus station in Hamilton and it took longer than I had anticipated since I had to deal with talking to a very bored-looking woman behind the counter who didn’t realise the need for expedience. By the time she managed to provide the token and calculate what change I needed, the bus was gone. This was the 17:30 #7 bus which goes via the South Road. The next bus was scheduled for 17:45, like every other day. However, for unexplained reasons, this bus was cancelled without any announcement. Since this is part of the peak hours, the cancellation created a backlog of people trying to get home. It even created a backlog for the #8 bus which goes along the Middle Road. People were just trying to get home.
I decided that it would be best not to wait at the central bus station because I didn’t want to have to fight for a place on the bus. Queuing (waiting in line) is different here than in the UK, people will barge into you to get ahead. So, I walked to the next bus stop, near the magistrate’s court. Since there is a bus every 15 minutes, I could make it there before the next bus came. The next bus was the 18:00 service which, of course, was completely packed and didn’t stop at my stop. Neither did the next #8 service. After this, the 18:15 buses were also cancelled (no explanation was given, they were just cancelled) so, after an hour of waiting, I got on the 18:30 #7 bus which I picked up at the bus stop by the Rubis petrol station on the road in/out of Hamilton.
Of course, there was still a backlog to be cleared so this bus was completely packed. People was standing and so did I. The bus driver was a woman who was having a chat with one of the passengers on the first few seats. To explain the setting, the bus is a single-decker bus with 3 seats opposite the bus driver (along the side of the bus opposite the driver) and 3 seats directly behind the bus driver (again along the side of the bus). Then, it changes into a central corridor and two sets of two seats abreast on either side of the corridor facing forward. I was standing in the corridor between the front sets of 3 seats.
After a few stops, people got on and off and there was an empty seat where the two-and-two part of the bus starts. I asked if anyone older than me needed the seat, nobody did so I sat in it. A few stops later, an elderly and frail-looking woman got on the bus. The first three seats opposite the bus driver were occupied by a middle-aged woman who was chatting with the driver, another young-ish woman and a very large young man who was half hanging off his seat. On the opposite side, there was an elderly woman, a nurse with a nursing book on her lap and a woman with a child in her lap. As the newly arrived elderly passenger got on the bus, I was expecting to see at least one of these people offer her their seat. Yet, this did not happen! Not even the nurse whose job is to care for people bothered. The fat man, he didn’t bat an eyelid, kept using his two phones (iphone and blackberry, I think). The woman having a chat with the driver didn’t even notice and the woman next to her, likewise. Obviously, I didn’t expect the other elderly woman to give up her seat or the woman carrying the child.
As soon as she got to where I was sat, I offered my seat (not because I’m some sort of hero but because it’s the decent thing to do) and she took it gratefully, thanking me profusely. The people around didn’t give a sh*t, I was surprised. When I lived in Prague, I remember people fighting to give up their seat for elderly passengers, pregnant women or people carrying small children. It’s the decent, civilised thing to do. The same applies in London, despite it being a large and usually unfriendly city. But, here in Hamilton Bermuda? I was shocked.
So, next time you hear about the friendliness of Bermuda and Bermudians, take it with a large pinch of salt. In some instances, this is true but in others it’s very far from the truth. Good luck, expats.