Glowing Article Highlights ‘Bermuda Manners’

March 9, 2014

Canadian writer David Colman has written an article highlighting Bermudian politeness, in which he describes some of his experiences in Bermuda and says: “Respect, through politeness and manners, seems embedded in these islands’ environmental DNA.”

An excerpt:

There are people with excellent manners wherever we go. It is the extent of the politeness in Bermuda that is so striking to me. But why here in Bermuda? My short answer to that is I just don’t know. I simply don’t have the facts to be certain, but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, at a minimum, I think it is a choice, a choice made by this island society that this is the way they want its people to behave.

To achieve this choice, de facto they have adopted a couple of tenets: lead by example – a good example; and encourage – no, demand – that the island’s children follow the adults’ example.

A few weeks ago I was standing at the shore of Jobson’s Bay on the island’s south shore. I know, I know, I wasn’t going to mention the beautiful beaches but I couldn’t resist.

A man was in the water with his two young sons. He said hello to me and immediately reminded his boys to say ‘good morning’ to this stranger. They did without further encouragement.

At another time, Barb was in a shop in St. George’s. The owner said to her little girl, “Did you say ‘good morning’ to the lady – because if you did, I don’t think she could have heard you”?

And just the other day, a young boy accidentally ran into me while riding his bike. There was no harm done. His grandmother, who was nearby, did not apologise to me on his behalf. She made sure that he apologised directly to me. He did so as though it was second nature.

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Comments (26)

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  1. Toodle-oo says:

    Sure there’s still some well mannered and polite people around here but for too many it seems to be becoming unfashionable to be so minded. Maybe 4 decades ago it really was noticeable regardless of where in the world one came from . Not so much now.

    I suggest the writer try living here for more than a year and then see what his take is .

    • Hurricane says:

      @ Toodle-oo, I beg to differ with you. Well mannered Bermudians are still in a majority.

      • Mazumbo says:

        Its a part of our culture to be polite, especially in the African Bermuda community due to the fact that the Island is small and that we had to interact in close quarters and didn’t have enough land mass to maroon in the early days, so our mannerism was inbred in us throughout history by our colonial teachers.
        A very unique trait though.

  2. Expat says:

    As an expat I have found Bermudians, in person, extremely polite. I have seen schoolchildren on buses regularly give up their seats (far more frequently than in UK or US) for passengers both tourist and locals.
    People acknowledge me on the street or at least reciprocate a greeting.
    I forget, when I go home, that it is not the norm. When I stand for ladies on the tube it is greeted by surprise. If I hold a door for somebody I say good morning and am usually ignored.

    In short, I have noticed the good manners. You will get ill mannered people everywhere, but they are fewer and further between here.

    I also find it doesn’t hurt to smile and say good morning first :)

  3. seenit says:

    Biggest joke I’ve read in ages!

    • Chingas Bye says:

      Yes you are when you look in the mirror!

    • J says:

      First of all, Good afternoon @seenit.

      All of Bermuda respects your opinion and appreciates your comments.

      Have a great day.

  4. PANGAEA says:

    If you throw bread on the water you will get back buttered Scones.

  5. Coffee says:

    I love Bermuda ! I love her people ! She has a beautiful smell about her , especially now when the freesias are blooming .

    • Chingas Bye says:

      I agree, I have some at my house but there are some properties in Warwick and Paget that have lawns covered by them.

      • Dark Side of the Moon says:

        AWWWW, can I get some? I just love, love, love them and don’t see any around my way.

        Getting on to the subject of being polite. I love the way Bermudians are so polite to people, but there is a dark side of this, like when someone doesn’t repeat it back to a Bermudian, for instance, they immediately have their back up and give you that TUDE stare. So rude. We have to remember that not all of people who reside here are like us. Maybe they are not having such a good day, or good afternoon, so they don’t want to say it back. In some cases I really feel sorry for visitors who don’t know that they have to say it back and then the tude begins….very childish and silly in this day and age.

  6. Chingas Bye says:

    Lets keep it up! Perhaps it is time for another one of those “Bermuda Is You” campaigns like the one I remember marketed to the school kids in the 80s.

  7. Triangle Drifter says:

    Bermuda does not have a monopoly on pleasantness, not by a long shot. I must travel to different places than some or maybe it is my demeaner when I walk into a shop that is not busy. Not counting downtown major cities where service can be abrupt to downright rude, but most of the time the store server is the first to speak, as they should, with a greeting & offer of help.

    Somehow in Bermuda the customer is expected to speak first, & they had better give the ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’. A simple ‘Hi’ doesn’t cut it here. Never been able to figure that one out.

    Maybe this travel writer did not shop. Maybe he did not ride the buses or take a taxi. Maybe he got extremely lucky because we have all been victims or have heard horror stories about the lack of manners on public transport.

    • ABM says:

      Man, give it up already! Stop selling out your island on every blog!!

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        Interesting that you do not try to deny what I have written. You just don’t like facing up to the fact that Bermuda is no longer the civil place it used to be.

        It is called denial.

        Sorry, but my comments come from 19 years a frontline tourism job providing an attraction for high end visitors, when we had some. My statements come from visitors, some of them multi timers, who told me quite frankly the changes they have observed.

        I am not the only one making these views. Many visitor letters have been published over the years stating the very same observations. Many more don’t write letters. They write with their feet. They don’t come back.

        • Boo says:

          Agreed Triangle Drifter, and the “Tude” is why people wont come back here, I am Bermudian and I find it EXTREMELY RUDE.

          People here think they are ‘doing you a favor’ & that mindset is killing Bermuda…

      • Mazumbo says:

        I wouldn’t be quick to say “your island” with a name like Drifter, just saying.

    • Dreamcatcher says:

      Clearly you’ve posted before reading the article. He references riding the bus and a shopping experience. He also mentions he spent 6 weeks here.

      Get a life. Posting before you know what you’re not even informed about.

    • We Say says:

      to Toodle-oo, seenit & Triangle D….in a sing song voice: “Good morning Haters! :-) ” lol ;-) Because “Bermuda is You” (too)…if you catch our drift.(no pun intended to you TD) :-)

      Like one of the posters says above, everywhere you go you WILL find good/pleasant people and not so good/unpleasant people. so to the naysayers or nega-bunnies: today: – try to be the first to give a smile Or a hello, and I’m quite certain you will be greeted back accordingly. Just try it to brighten up your moment. Peace!

    • Hurricane says:

      @ Triangle Drifter……you have got to be “on” something. Who the heck said anything about having a monopoly. Come on, what destination has a monopoly of manners. The point is that manners is alive and well in Bermuda. And, yes, as expected, there are sone exceptions.

    • We Say says:

      Triangle Drifter: It wasn’t said Bermuda had the monopoly, merely that the writer had a rather pleasant experience manners-wise evidencing proof that manners is still alive and kicking on the island.Can we just say kudos to all of those who are in that mode and encourage others to do the same?? Why be such a sour mouth about a feel-good news story? I am hoping you are having a better afternoon after all and that your tomorrow is even better.

  8. boogiedownproductions says:

    Some of you posters need a life… Why add your behaviour to whats being said.. We should leatn to accept whats being said and keep the comments to the story.. and most importantly learn to read and not read into the story

  9. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    Bermudians are very polite, approachable and naturally helpful.

    There are times in the UK when I am reminded that people here do not understand this as a gesture of politeness and civility which is instilled.

    In the UK there are all types of cultural norms, and to a few, being just politely friendly or even helpful can be sadly misinterpreted which leads to a societal norm that is not kind and/or helpful to total strangers.

    London, England

  10. US Observer in Pink Sand says:

    As a born Bermudian living in the US I “always” look foward to coming home. Why? I love it when people actually say good morning, good afternoon, good evening. It was how I was raised and it has carried with me even today. Living in a big city you rarely have this however I make it a part of my day to give greetings whenever possible. I always speak first and if I don’t get a response, so what? Do not ever take it for granted what you have there on the island. Yes Bermuda has a different generation however people are people and you have to show by example. I look foward to coming home to fly my kite in St. David’s and watch the go-carts race from the lighthouse.