Wilbert Nurse – Barbados’ Most Experienced Taxi Driver
by Katy Gash
Everyone knows the friendly taxi operator Wilbert Nurse – with his broad smile, kind eyes, and full taxi driver uniform of black pants, white shirt, black bowtie, and to top it off, his signature black-and-white taxi driver cap. And if anyone knows this island like the back of their hand, it’s most probably this man.
Mr. Nurse, as he is respectfully referred to by the younger drivers at the Accra Beach Taxi Stand, was born in Barbados’ largest parish of St. Philip, before moving with his mother and siblings to Hastings in the neighboring parish of Christ Church. “My mother was a hard-working woman who would sell sweetbread, fish, and mauby to the men who worked on the plantations, and she would also do a little needlework from home.
“I knew that I also wanted to work for myself,” he adds, and with this as his goal, Mr. Nurse bought his first car in 1948 – a Standard Vanguard – and licensed it as a taxi from the very beginning. “I learned how to drive from any of my friends who would show me, and it only took me five lessons out on the road before I earned my license.”
Now, over 55 years later – and with 82 wise years under his cap – Mr. Nurse reflects on the changes he has seen. “At that time there were only a handful of independent taxi operators like myself. We made sure to be professional and respectful at all times, and today it is much the same for me.
“There are a lot more cars on the road, though,” he smiles, “and a lot more taxis and tourists too, but things are the same.”
Today Mr. Nurse enjoys his career at a more leisurely pace. He has lunch and clocks out at about 3 o’clock each afternoon, leaving enough time to be enjoyed by his wife, seven children, and 14 grandchildren.
“The beauty of it is that I have always felt very independent,” says Mr. Nurse with an ever-present glint in his eyes. “I have been able to set goals for myself, and then I’ve been able to set about accomplishing them. Yes, the taxi business has been good, very good to me.”
Article is written in 2006 and compliments of “Ins and Outs of Barbados” Magazine