Revelry: As Bermuda entered into 2014, many of the party-goers seeking a way home were a little worse for wear. *Photo supplied
Revelry: As Bermuda entered into 2014, many of the party-goers seeking a way home were a little worse for wear. *Photo supplied

I’m in Keibul Hart’s taxi for less than five minutes before he orders me out.

We are in the cab queue on Front Street, which is moving fairly quickly. He doesn’t want potential customers to think the cab is already taken, so he tells me to get out of the front seat and wait on the sidewalk until someone gets it. Time is money; he doesn’t want to lose either. 

It is after midnight. Front Street is filled with the sound of New Year revelry.

Three Filipinos, fresh off their  finishing their shifts working in the kitchen of a downtown establishment, hop in. I sit next to the two in the back who have their dinner in a large brown paper bag. It smells amazing. 

The guy with the Jagermeister bandana seated in the front seat  has a small flute of champagne.

He and Keibul apparently know each other. They get into a brief debate about whether the lane he lives on is wide enough for Keibul to turn around. Keibul says no, the champagne-toting passenger says yes. We go down the lane. Keibul is right. He can’t turn around. He starts to mutter. He has to back out.  Before they leave, the trio invites us in for food and drink. Keibul declines, stating the obvious: “I’m driving.”

Soon thereafter, Keibul, a Warwick resident who has been driving a taxi for four years, starts talking about race relations on the island. Racial tension has eased through the years, he says, but the divide still exists.

“You need to stop hanging out with white boys if you want to see the real Bermuda,” he tells me.

Keibul goes back to Front Street.  He picks up a 23-year-old Bermudian who has been tasked by his girlfriend with a most peculiar mission: he has to go to Pembroke, pick up a car and then return to Front Street. 

Catching a cab at 3am will prove to be impossible, he says. He addresses the obvious question before I ask it: “No, I’m not drunk.” 

During the ride, he starts talking about women, serving up advice like complimentary champagne: “It’s all about the approach. Confident but no disrespect, you know?” 

Keibul pulls into a house near Spanish Point. The car is not there.  There is, however, a large dog — it looks like a German or Belgian Shepherd — pacing in the yard. Somewhere nearby, smaller dogs are barking incessantly.

“Sounds like you got a zoo,” says Keibul

 The guy it trying to figure out the location of the car, to no avail.  He calls his girlfriend. He has a hard time hearing her. The operation was ill-conceived and ill-executed. Now it is doomed.  He just dropped more than twenty dollars for the pleasure of discussing Bermudian women with a cabbie for half-an-hour.

“Just take me back, I’m sorry.”

Unlike my experience earlier in the night with Lionel — when everyone seemed relatively sober – some of the folks Keibul picks up are obviously drunk. His strategy for making money tonight is simple: he keeps hitting up Front Street. 

After midnight, there are people in the road  shouting and trying to flag Keibul down. He ignores them, heading for the taxi queue. During one of the trips, there is much jockeying for position as Keibul pulls up to the curb. 

It’s around 3am, and the throng has one focus: getting home.

There aren’t enough cabs around to deal with the crowd. Four people eventually get in.

Keibul makes the mistake of lamenting the lack of Bermudians in the cab when three of the passengers are, in fact, from the island. Much consternation follows. 

One of the passengers is an 18-year-old male who is — there’s really no way of putting this diplomatically — wasted. At one point, some part of his body smacks against the side of the cab. 

He lies down in the back seat. He bickers with his aunt after she revealed his age. He used to be a bartender in Hamilton, he says. Best bartender they had, he says.

He then starts opining about life on the island.

“Bermuda can be a dangerous place,” he says.

Keibul laughs at that notion and disagrees.  The 18-year-old isn’t having it: “Believe what you want, but that’s the truth.”

After he gets out, Keibul shakes his head.

“He was angry at the world.”

I ask Keibul if he feels like he’s doing the community a service by shuttling drunk people to and from their destination.

He’s allowing people to have a good time on New Year’s without having to worry about drunk driving, surely that must make him feel good?

He laughs and looks at me quizzically, like I had just made the most absurd statement he has heard all night. 

“Nah, driving a cab is about making money. That’s it. 

“Tonight, I really didn’t do as well as I had hoped.”