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Major magazine shares Shawnette’s kindness

Shawnette Somner

Bermudians are known sticklers for greeting one another, including striking up conversations with visitors.

For local Shawnette Somner, a chance chat with a holidaying couple unexpectedly landed her in the pages of a major Canadian magazine, Zoomer.

On her way to Front Street for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Bermuda races, Ms Somner noticed the two on Church Street consulting a map.

“I don’t like to see lost tourists — it bothers me,” she said. “My entire family has been involved in hospitality as far back as I can remember. It’s just passed on that you have to help. Not just tourists — everybody.”

Ms Somner did not just show Judy Gerstel and her husband George to Front Street; the couple ended up getting a lift from her, and then coming out on a packed cruise for the day.

Confessing herself at first “slightly suspicious” of the gesture, Ms Gerstel wrote in Monday’s article: “After all, we were old white tourists.

“Why would this ebullient black younger Bermudian invite us to join her buddies out on a boat for the biggest party in recent Bermuda history?”

In Ms Somner’s words: “They had a blast — oh my gosh, they had a great time. Everybody on board just embraced them.”

At no point did they realise they had invited a travel journalist on board, for a magazine billed as “the largest paid circulation magazine in Canada for the mature market”.

In closing, the writer said she occasionally opts to “channel Shawnette” with a random greeting to a stranger, adding: “You could try it, too.”