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Anita went from numbers to her dream job, and then Covid hit

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Anita Bean with one of her silk floral arrangements (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

The pandemic has put Anita Bean’s dream job on hold.

After a long career in government she took early retirement in 1998 and decided to do something to make people smile.

Thinking how the flowers her husband Quinton brought her had always made her happy she started Anita’s Floral Specialities, offering silk arrangements she made and sold from her home.

“I have customers tell me all the time they still have the arrangement I made for them,” said the 73-year-old, who has closed her shop until she considers it is safe to return to the US to buy supplies.

The creativity involved in flower arranging is a far cry from the work she did with the Accountant General’s office.

Hired as an assistant clerk in 1974, her job involved batch-processing thousands of invoices and cheques, and checking the calculations of other government departments. She had wanted to work with computers since high school.

“I keyed in numbers from 9am until 5pm,” Mrs Bean said. “At times it became tedious, because that was all I was doing. But I loved it, so it did not matter. I don’t know what triggered it, but I was always fascinated by machines.”

She took a number of courses at the Bermuda College to expand her abilities, including one in computers.

“It was the late 1970s,” she said. “I was the only woman in the class but it did not matter. They treated me well.” Students practised on a large IBM mainframe “shaped like a box” that Mrs Bean believes “was obsolete when we got it”.

She struggled to understand how it worked but passed the course anyway.

“When you finished it they just gave you a piece of paper,” she said. “But it really helped me with my job in Government.”

Over a period of 24 years, she worked her way up to supervisor.

“I often had to sit with new staff members and train them,” Mrs Bean said.

Eventually, she decided she wanted to move to a different department.

“We had a son, Reuben, who was getting older and we wanted to send him to college,” she said. “The more I tried the tighter they held on to me. It could have been because I was good at my job. If it had been I wish they had told me that, but they never did.”

Although she was never timed, colleagues often commented on her speedy key punching. Over time, the repetitive stress from her typing damaged the nerves in her fingers. She developed carpal tunnel syndrome in her hands, a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling.

“I could not do the key punching anymore because the nerves in the tips of my fingers were shot,” she said.

Anita Bean with one of her silk floral arrangements (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

She then became an entrepreneur like her father, Charles Bean, who built homes for a living.

Her mother, Annis, looked after Mrs Bean and her four siblings.

“I don’t think I had a lot of responsibility as a child, but when I got older I would ease my mother up by washing clothes, cleaning the house and doing the ironing,” she said. “She taught us everything we would need to know to run our own homes. I was mighty thankful for that when I got married.”

Because her father had a difficult childhood he worked hard, eventually building a home for each of his children.

“He had it hard growing up,” Mrs Bean said. “Because of his upbringing he did not want his family to come up in that same background.”

She and her husband met in their early teens at the Salvation Army Church near her family’s home on Cedar Hill in Warwick.

“I was already in the church,” Mrs Bean said. “He joined to become a scout.”

Her father thought they were too young to date so they were friends, at first.

“It was not until I was about 17 or 18 that he started to drive me home after church.”

By then the family had moved to Riviera Estate in Southampton. Mr Bean would leave her at the door. “Then one day my father said, ‘You can bring Quinton in the house, you know.’ And so it started from there. He has been my one true love. We dated for about five years before we got married.”

Sometimes they get under each other’s feet but they always try to resolve their disagreements.

“If I am not happy with something I will let him know, and I expect him to do the same thing with me,” Mrs Bean said. “And more importantly, I do not go to bed angry. At times there are just things that have to be said. I try to keep a happy medium and it makes life easier.”

The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary on August 26 with a dinner at home.

The Beans have three grandchildren.

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published March 02, 2022 at 7:52 am (Updated March 03, 2022 at 7:52 am)

Anita went from numbers to her dream job, and then Covid hit

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