Even after a year, it still makes me jump every time. Bermudians use their car horns unlike anywhere else in the world that I’ve ever been. They use them to say ‘hi’ to people they know – which on an island of 60,000 people is quite a regular occurrence.
On one of my first car journeys in Bermuda, I asked the driver some questions about his car – efficiency, reliability, that kind of small talk nonsense. He loved his car, as most Bermudians do – they are only allowed one per household and they bling them up with rims and body kits to within an inch of their lives. He had no complaints about his car, except one BIG problem.
- Him: De horn ain’t no good gurrl. (Sorry, I will stop with the bad Bermudian accent!)
- Me: Not very good? Why, whatever do you mean?
- Him: It’s too hard to press so I can’t hello. That’s rude.
- Me: Err, I don’t think it was designed to be used so often.
Car manufacturers take note, he said he would never buy the brand again because of this issue. I heard another story of someone having to take their brand new car back to the garage 10 times – each time the problem was that the horn was broken. Seriously popular that one. And it doesn’t stop there, people beep their horns when they drive past their friends’ houses – whether they are there or not!
So, if you hear a beep-beep, don’t jump out of the way or think you’ve done something wrong, they are saying hello to the car behind you.
Maybe this is one of the reasons for Bermuda’s poor road safety statistics – this article is over a year old, but nothing has changed much. Bermuda is considered a ‘high risk’ country in terms of road fatality numbers. Drunk driving or riding is probably the real culprit, but a surprising number of cars end up in the harbour in broad daylight too, even though the speed limit is 35kph (that’s 22 miles per hour – yes, twenty two!). Without wishing to trivialise this serious issue, maybe if they stuck to the speed limit, stopped chatting on the bloody phone and looking out for people they knew, things might improve.
Say ‘Hello*, how are you?’ to everyone, although not necessarily in Hamilton. Apparently, it is taught in Bermuda’s schools that you must be nice to tourists and visitors and say this to everyone. You can’t go far wrong with that.
*It has been pointed out that ‘Hello’ doesn’t cut it, which is absolutely right (it must have been the end of a long day when I wrote this). Good morning, good afternoon and good evening are essential – see the comment below for further details.