I had a reservation for a small compact car. It was all I needed. Ever since we found out that on a Bermuda license we can only rent from certain car rental agencies in Boston and maybe other rental agencies in other states will follow the same Boston restrictions, I have been a bit nervous renting cars in the USA and showing them my Bermuda driver’s license. So, I handed the gentleman at the non-Boston Avis my license to collect my compact car and go on my way.
He took one look at it and got kind of animated. I got more nervous. This should be a simple transaction where he barely looked at me, typed a whole lot into the computer that rested behind the counter between us and maybe if he felt like it, he made polite small talk, but that was it.
“You’re from Bermuda?”
Instead, his head jerked up, his eyes widened and he started yelling at me. So, I should explain that the airport Avis where this took place was a very small one in the middle of New Hampshire. It was not attached to a major city. The airport was small and the Avis was a Mom and Pop franchise operation with, as I would find later, the gentleman in front of me being the “Pop.”
Back to the yelling. As the owner-operator of the Avis in small-town New Hampshire raised his voice, everyone in the small airport luggage area turned towards me.
“You’re from Bermuda?” It wasn’t an accusatory yell, it was more like an excited yell. I relaxed a little, but not too much because it was still so strange.
“Yes,” I said cautiously.
Then he proceeded to tell me his story. He and his wife had taken a cruise to Bermuda just two weeks ago. The ship had left Boston and had gone to Bermuda where he spent a day and a half of what had been 36 of the most enjoyable hours of his life. He said that they had rented a scooter and that it had rained for most of his trip.
It didn’t sound like a good trip to me.
He told me that the reason they had such a great time was because of the people.
Car Reservation – Upgrade
In his view, the people had been the kindest and friendliest that he had ever encountered. He said that the island was so orderly. He and his wife had found that everything ran so well. From his point of view, the island was so clean and well-kept and all looked like it was done with pride and excellence. He thought that the island was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. But more than that, it seemed to run well with kind, generous people.
He had nothing but praise for the transportation system, for his scooter rental experience at Elbow Beach cycles where Mrs. T made sure that they knew what they were doing before they headed out. Then he spoke of every single person they met being gracious and hospitable.
I smiled and nodded appropriately as he spoke. Then he really got my attention. He said that he had been to many islands and he, in fact, was from Haiti and had migrated to the USA. He was proud to see a small island do well economically and socially and, he repeated himself, Bermuda made him proud.
People lived in harmony with each other, they were welcoming to visitors and they handled their business and their home with excellence.
He couldn’t wait to return.
I was a bit speechless at this point. Should I correct him and point out all the ways that we fail at what he just described? Or, should I agree that sometimes, yes, we do have lots to be proud of?
He interrupted my contemplation by announcing that he was upgrading my online compact car reservation to a fancy mini-SUV with all sorts of bells and whistles on the inside. It was indeed a nice car, maybe one of the best that I’ve driven.
He was upgrading me for free…because I was from Bermuda.
Bermuda Makes Me Proud
Now I had something to say. I thanked him profusely and said that if he and his wife do come back, send me an email in advance so I could meet up with them.
(He had my email address as a part of the car reservation and rental agreement.)
When I returned the car, the gentleman was not there but his wife was working.
I had the almost exact same conversation with her as I had with her husband six days earlier. Her story almost identically matched his, which I found particularly interesting as my story of the same event or experience almost never matches my husband’s. She was equally excited to process the return of the car as he had been to process the rental. No breaks this time though.
“You are from Bermuda?” She was speaking so loudly that the whole area could hear. When we were finished with the mileage and full fuel questions, she turned to her assistant behind her.
“What a great place Bermuda is. It makes me proud.” She said.
Me too, I told her.