Us and them

There’s so little traffic in Shetland that the powers that be must have decided it’s a waste to build a road wide enough to accommodate a vehicle going in each direction. Behold the one-lane road with passing places.

The rules are logical and easy and within a few days we had it down pat. The main rule, as in most driving schemes anywhere, is to stay on your own side and don’t cross over if the passing place is on the other side but rather stop on your side and allow the oncoming vehicle to drive around you on the passing place.

The other day we were on a single-lane road when we saw a hire car coming the other way. We had a passing place just ahead but the oncoming car panicked and kept coming, then crossed to their right and pulled into our passing place. It wasn’t kosher but we kept driving and waved as we went by.

“They’re not from around here,” Jack said. I thought he was commenting on the break in protocol.

“How can you tell?” I asked facetiously.


I turned to him, confused.

“I’m wearing earrings.”

“You’re not from around here.”


For a quickie intro to the eccentricities of Shetland, check this out including this caveat:

We’re not the Shetlands; we are just Shetland. Period. Call us the Shetland Isles, or an island archipelago, or da auld rock, or da rock – whatever, just don’t call us ‘the Shetlands’. This is a sure-fire way of getting off on the wrong foot, or most usually, corrected.

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