I learnt last week that our car number plate is probably as valuable as the car itself, possibly more with the new scratch the shopping trolley made this morning as it fought for independence.
I read a local blog a few weeks ago where he (presumption on my part since he devotes a whole post to complaining about women drivers) ranted somewhat about the “old grannies” driving around the island – these are identifiable not by the fact that they drive small cars, or that their heads may be completely hidden by the headrests because they are short, but by the number plate beginning with “0”. So by his definition I am an “old granny” – I beg to differ with respect to both.
The number plate 05844 was issued to the 5844th car licensed in or shortly after 1975. Now obviously that’s not my car which I was assured by the friend who sold it to us is a 2008 Kia Picanto. (Don’t laugh, there isn’t much choice out here) So someone way back has retained this number plate and transferred it to a new car, maybe it has been on more than one car in the past 40 years. It could well be on a different car again in a few years time as we had a “let us know when you are selling it” request that definitely pertained to the license plate and not the car.
I think I understand the statement of belonging that an old plate carries. Twice now in one of the Front Street shops I have been asked “Are you on the ship?” and I immediately want to disown that possibility: I am local, I have a driving licence, a car, I belong here. But there is a hierarchy of belonging to Bermuda and I am at the very bottom, merely passing through. To want to belong is a compliment, to the country, the people. Though I have been an ex-pat for just over a year I know that a need to fit in and be part of your adopted country attaches itself to you as you get off the plane. The day we arrived and joined the “work-permits” queue at immigration it felt like a confirmation of sorts, as if we had achieved a qualification.
For now, as I drive around in a non-statement-making-Kia-Picanto, I shall enjoy the notion that the old number plate is a disguise. I shall aim to drive in a fashion that does not feed the ranting local blogger, does not give fuel to the old/granny/woman-driver stereotype.
Oh yes, on some journeys I join in that ranting – at the apparent inability to indicate, the suicidal stubbornness of a bike holding the middle lane, at a 50mph overtake across the yellow line. Since using a horn merely means “Hi” I am bereft of a frustration indicator, but exclaiming “What on earth…?” in questioning crescendo serves to defuse into a bemusement – after all, “This is Bermuda!”