Honking: Bermudian Style
Since relocating to the tiny island of Bermuda one of the first things I noticed about the locals is their unique style of honking while driving. There is a learned, almost quintessential language to it. It is as if, after teaching your children to speak, you teach them how to honk.
Back home in America, if someone honks, you instantly startle and look around to see who the offending person is, not here. Bermudians are social creatures and quite calm. They LOVE to honk but, here is the catch, they honk to say hello. I have never heard someone honk in anger here. They honk to say hello and honk to say thank you. If someone lets you out of a road or driveway they will pause and honk to say, “go ahead” and then you honk back. It’s just their way of being polite. I actually heard a story from a local Bermudian saying that Bermuda stopped importing a certain car because people complained that the horn was too “loud and offensive” they wanted it to be “light and cheery”. I can only imagine the reaction I would receive if I tried honking to say “thank you” as I pulled out of a parking spot on Walnut Street in center city Philadelphia.
While Bermudians use their horn differently they also view traffic differently. They exhibit a vast amount of patience while driving. If there is a back up, which there frequently is; with the roads being so small and the cars being numerous, people just wait. I know this may seem strange to someone not from a very population dense area but NO ONE waits patiently from where I’m from. I’m even guilty of it myself. Seeing people just sitting in traffic makes my blood pressure rise and my defensive driving skills increase. But here, if there is a traffic hold up, people wait, honk to say hello, and lean out their car windows to say hello to each other and ask how their day is going.
The courtesy that people extend while driving here is something I hope I never become immune to. I always find it pleasant that people are courteous and learn to accept traffic jams as something that is out of my control and a chance to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery, as Bermudians do.