Friday, December 21, 2012


So here I am, 8 hours into a shit day and I decide to check my Crazy Train email.
If there was a kielbasa for bravery, it would be 24 inches long and wider than the most obnoxiously sized flat-screen television and I would have it bronzed and blessed by some crazy Orthodox Ukrainian priest so I could give it to this person.

I am PROUD, PROUD of the author of this email. MERRY CHRISTMAS INDEED!!!

From Jack C
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 1:41 PM
Pre-Christmas Foot Rider Drama

You’d have been proud of me today. I made my feelings known to a donkey (pictured below) on the LSE into Union this morning who had his feet up on the seat, and on a fairly wet day no less. As a mild-mannered high school teacher, I deal with more than my share of unwanted conflict and drama with students on a day-to-day basis (actually not so much this year, as I’ve transferred to a much nicer school), so I don’t go looking for arguments with strangers and generally mind my own business on the train, all the while grinding my teeth about the behaviours you and your readers also find irritating.

What pushed me over the top today was the donkey’s attitude when the transit safety guys came around checking tickets. No wonder high school students frequently act affronted when challenged on clearly inappropriate behaviour. Adults apparently act the same way. Having taught for about six years now, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m usually the “bad guy” for doing my job and disciplining a student for something he knows full well is against the rules and which he is doing in plain sight.

My theory is that nobody really likes being told what to do. It’s in most of our natures to resent authority just a bit when we feel our freedom is being curtailed, even (and perhaps especially) when we are the ones in the wrong and know it. The difference is that most of us learn the basic social codes that enable us to repress our resentment at being subject to rules in favour of appropriate respect for authority and the desire to maintain a peaceful, orderly environment. However, some do not learn or accept basic social codes, and so are endowed with a sense of entitlement that far outstrips any conventional notion of right and wrong. I was raised to believe that your morality and personal integrity is best demonstrated in who you are and what you do when you believe nobody is watching.

In any event, donkey has his feet on the seat, and the transit cop comes by checking tickets, and this is the exchange that ensued:

Transit Cop: Sir, you need to take your feet off the seat. I believe I spoke to about that yesterday as well.
Donkey: Whatever. Here’s my Presto card, man. *feet still up on the seat*
Transit Cop: Sir, take your feet of the seat now, please.
Donkey: *slowly and grudgingly takes his feet down* Man, what is your problem? You act like this every day. Why don’t you get a life?
Transit Cop: I’m doing my job. It’s not fair to other passengers to have your feet where they are going to be sitting.
Donkey: Whatever. Everybody puts their feet up. Get over it. *puts his feet back up* See? What are you going to do about it?
*At this point, as a teacher, I’m thinking DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! Donkey’s testing you, brother. You CAN’T back down now or your authority is shot.*
Transit Cop: Sir, if you keep acting this way, I’ll have to fine you.
*I’m thinking, Okay, but you’d better be prepared to do it. If that’s an idle threat, he’s going to call your bluff, and you’re toast.*
Donkey: Fine. You wanna write me a ticket? Go ahead. Go ahead. Write it up.
*Uh oh. I hope you know you HAVE to write that ticket now, Mr. Transit Safety Guy*
Transit Cop: You WANT to be fined?
Donkey: I don’t care. I’m sick of you and your attitude. If you wanna fine me for putting my feet up when EVERYBODY else does it, go ahead and do it.
Transit Cop: Just don’t put your feet on the seat. If I see you breaking the rules again, I WILL fine you.
*No, damn it! No! Don’t back down! This is terrible!*
Donkey: Yeah, you do that, bro. *smirking*

At this point the transit cop moved into the next coach, and the donkey exchanged a smug smile with his seat mate. What really got to me was that another student-aged passenger (female) gave him an approving smile and nod. He just got away with it and he’s now a hero to the other donkeys sitting and watching. Damn! I still probably would have kept my mouth shut if he had kept his shut, but no, he began to roundly insult the Go Transit official for doing his job, called him all sorts of names, and continued loudly defending his behavior. “I mean, EVERYBODY puts their feet up. EVERYBODY.”

This was the last straw for me. If there’s one pet peeve I have as a teacher, it’s kids pointing out the bad behaviour of others to justify their own. “Everybody’s doing it!” has got to be the most employed (and also the dumbest) defense for rule-breaking. It’s also the mindset of people who help themselves to a couple of TVs from a smashed storefront after a hockey riot. “The window was already smashed. Everybody else was helping themselves to stuff. I know stealing is wrong, but if I hadn’t taken it, somebody else would have!” I hate, hate, HATE the bandwagon defense.

So I spoke up. All 5’5’ 120 lbs-soaking-wet of me: “I don’t put my feet on the seat.” He and his friend turned to stare at me. “Moreover,” I continued, “the transit safety official is just doing his job, so you may as well can the personal remarks.” This is the exchange that followed, as best as I can recall:

Donkey: Whatever. Listen… everybody puts their feet on the seat. Everybody.
Me: No, they don’t. I don’t.
Donkey: Yeah, well, that’s you. I agree with you. Maybe it’s not courteous, but almost everybody does it. Are you gonna go around and stop everybody from doing it?
Me: No, obviously I don’t have the means to stop everyone who does it. But I really wish they wouldn’t. I don’t want to sit where people’s dirty feet have been.
Donkey: Yeah, well, lots of people do it. You can’t stop them all. That’s life. So why are you getting so upset about it?
Me: Who said I was upset? You’re making a scene about having been told off for breaking the rules. Since silence implies assent, I’m speaking up and letting you know that you’re wrong. Your behaviour actually does affect others. I’m not the police. I can’t enforce anything. But you spoke up first, and I’m refuting your point that EVERYBODY does it. I don’t, and there are many others who don’t do it and don’t like it. That’s my point.

*At this point, the young female passenger from a neighbouring quad leaps to donkey’s defense and rounds on me angrily*

Bystander: Yeah, well, I don’t see a sign. Do you? If it’s that important, there should be a sign.
Me: You need a sign to tell you not to be rude to other passengers?
Bystander: I’m just saying it’s not a big deal. Like he says, everybody puts their feet up.
Me: And as I said, I don’t, and I don’t like it.
Bystander: Yeah, well, you’re one person. You can’t stop everybody else from doing it.
Me: Perfectly true. I can’t.
Bystander: So why are you even talking right now?
Me: Silence implies assent. Just because I can’t fix the situation single-handedly doesn’t mean I should just keep quiet while he’s boasting about being rude.
Bystander: Whatever. There’s no sign. So you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Me: We don’t need signs for every basic point of personal conduct on passenger vehicles.
Donkey: Listen, man. I get where you’re coming from. I do. But not everybody was raised the same way. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. You think people shouldn’t put their feet up on the seat. That’s your opinion. I’m just pointing out that most people do it anyway, so there’s no point getting worked up about it. If everybody does it, what am I supposed to do?
Me: You could try not doing it.
Donkey: Okay, I hear you. But if everybody else is doing it anyway, what does that accomplish?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe something. Maybe nothing. I still think there’s room for basic common courtesy.
Donkey: You’re living in the wrong times, man. That’s not how the world works. People do shit all the time. Maybe I don’t like it, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

But, but, but… note the photo I’ve attached. His feet were DOWN for the rest of the trip, AND he held a door open for me at Union. So maybe that’s my Christmas gift from the donkeys.


Anonymous said...

Why does he have a donkey head?

Squiggles said...

Ummmm.... because he is a donkey?

Anyhoodles — WhooHoo!!!!!!!!!!!! Standing Ovation for you! I have done the speaking up thing and pointed to the sign, and was brushed off by the donkey in question.

Too bad the Officer didn't write him a ticket. I mean, he was asking for it. And it might have done some good to changing his behaviour in the future.

This is why GO is broke. If they enforced and fined the by-law breakers, they would be raking in the moola.

C.J. Smith said...

Anonymous is new to them here parts.

deepfish said...

Got the same thing the other day from a nic-donk at Smokeville station "Everybody does it."

Looks like you got a semi-coherent donkey this time. Mostly they just swear and issue threats when confronted on their entitlements... Good on ya.

Anonymous said...

I wish the GO cop would actually fine that douchebag for putting his feet on seats.

If I were next to him, I would probably kick his feet off the seats.

FKDD said...

Thank you for speaking up!

Kelly said...

um, there ARE signs...? With the image of feet on the seat and a circle/slash over it? I would have most definitely pointed one out. They aren't in every quad, but they are around.