Not impressed, Mr Taxi Driver
I would like to express my frustration and disappointment about a taxi driver who was very rude to my family and myself. It was an awful experience. The only silver lining, for which I was thankful, was that we as locals were the recipients of this negativism and not some visitors to our island.
Let me tell you what happened.
I would start by asking if there is not a policy for public-service taxi drivers to have clearly visible identification and driver’s names? There was nothing that was clearly indicating such detail, which at face value would be helpful to have, simply to be able to address a driver by name or for simple introduction purposes should customers want to communicate.
We arrived at the old Bermuda airport shortly before 11pm on Sunday, February 17. We had a pleasant time with immigration and an efficient period with customs. For your understanding, I had my eight-year-old daughter, 11-year-old son, 81-year-old mother and wife, Carolina, with me; travelling as a family. We had been up since 5.30am Bermuda time and were weary and eager to get home.
I was not present when the family approached the first driver, who apparently was not of sufficient capacity to transport five-plus bags. We approached the car immediately following, which was a six to seven-seater. The driver approached and opened the side door, and everything appeared normal and routine. Then I offered in a jovial manner to assist with the loading of our five bags and carry-ons. This somehow initiated the absolutely despicable attitude that the driver would project for the rest of the time we were unfortunate enough to share.
The driver snapped, “Get away from the car, I’ll do it” with raised, aggravated tone, with additional comment that I didn’t know what I was doing and he could handle matters. There was no consolatory or pleasant or matter-of-fact tone: his tone was displeasure and aggressive.
I was surprised. I had a strong gut instinct at that moment that “Maybe we should be considering a different taxi”. But with mom already seated and others settling into the vehicle, I brushed it off as “how bad can it be? A 20-minute ride with a fellow local”.
The majority of the trip was not awful or noteworthy other than for its lack of conversation or communication. The atmosphere would have been that of silence were calypso music not being played at a volume just slightly below that of rude. At the airport junction roundabout, my mom queried on the rainfall over the past couple of days. The retort: “Yeah, guess we had some.” In a tone of voice that gave the impression the conversation had ended.
Carolina, farther down the road on Harrington Sound Road, asked if the driver had heard about the wall collapse, which had been on social media. Again a gruff retort of “I ain’t heard of that!”
Other than the radio, there was no conversation to or from the driver for 12-plus minutes until it appeared he was turning into Belmer Drive, two drives east of Brimstone Hill. I stated our turn was farther on. The driver snapped back that I had said Belmer. I explained that I had said Brimstone Hill — the uncomfortable journey continued.
I gave further directions as we approached the turning — no response from the driver. I gave details as we approached intersections and our driveway — no response from the driver. After a fairly convoluted manoeuvre pulling partially into a neighbour’s drive and then reversing this action and driving frontward into ours, we all started unloading from the vehicle.
My mom was having difficulty getting the middle seat forward and, before the driver realised there was an issue as he opened the back of the vehicle, my son offered to pop over the seat back and exit, which he is more than capable of doing with shoes on or off the seat. He is aware that shoes and car or living-room cushions are not compatible. But before I or my mom could intervene, the driver bellowed in an angry and aggressive voice something like: “What are you doing? Do not climb in my car. Sit down. What do you think you’re doing?”
This was at such a tone and volume of anger and vehement that I was kind of shocked. My son was shocked. My mom and wife were shocked. It was totally uncalled for.
The exaggerated, aggressive tone was inappropriate and uncalled for. This was not a new car, and was fairly old and tired. Yes, you don’t climb on other people’s or anyone’s car seats.
Even if this would be helpful and resolve the matter that my son just wanted to get into the home and help his nana who was struggling with the seat mechanism, the driver had not bothered, ignored or had forgotten that a passenger was basically trapped in the rear seating and had not attempted. His car should be mechanically operated by him given his attitude. He had gone to deal with bags.
Now, up to this point, I had just decided the man was having a bad day or was not pleased to be driving at this time of night or was not pleased to be driving us. All of which I would have overlooked by the next day, but such a verbal attack, verging on verbal assault, on my 11-year-old son for trying to help out and resolve his entrapment. Well, that was about three steps too far.
I also realised that this driver was itching to create a conflict and inflame the situation — for what purpose, only he knows. I was getting a strong feeling that the driver despised me and my family for whatever reason ... maybe he could clarify. He seemed unnaturally aggressive and generally hateful. There was never any sense of kindness, friendliness, or the many other descriptions one would expect, hope for, and require from a person in public service; and from which so many other drivers are such wonderful Bermuda ambassadors.
This driver was the antithesis: nasty, despicable and deplorable. If someone does not want to be in a public-service role, does not want to drive certain people, cannot have some temperament for discretion, be tolerant, and have a willingness to communicate even if only on a limited neutral basis, then they should not be a taxi operator.
My wife, upon this confrontation with my son, stepped forward and stated with neutrality that “you don’t have a right to speak to my son like that”. To which the driver retorted aggressively, angrily and loud, in her face: “It’s my car and I tell you what you can and can’t do.”
Wow. What a horrible representative of the taxi industry. I have to keep reminding myself that there are so many other taxi drivers out there who are tolerant, wonderful, happy and communicative people, who are awesome representatives of a warm, friendly Bermuda. I also remind myself that I’m glad I was confronted with this situation and not a visitor to our island.
I paid the driver. He did not comment other than adding up the bag fee and total. I did not comment, either — good riddance. I was not going to stoop to his level and give him any satisfaction or cause for additional conflict, aggression, nastiness or hate. I felt sorry for this bitter man. He probably needs some help, but he did not want anything from me other than to sit still, say nothing and pay up. Very sad interaction.
I wish you luck helping this member of our community, and worry how he might treat other residents and visitors after such despicable treatment during our brief encounter.
I hope we never see him again.