Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Interview

Last Friday, because of the hype over the 72 Pape Bus Leprechaun aka Colossal Douchebag, I was contacted by Global News for an interview by email.

Here`s the full interview for those who are interested. I thought the reporter asked some great questions.

1)      What are some of the worst transit horror stories you experience or heard about?

I haven't witnessed it myself but there have been reports to me about people, when drunk, urinating in the aisle of a GO train and on the subway. But people are just as bad when they are sober. I once watched a man brush his teeth next to me on the GO train. He had two water bottles. One was empty and one had water. He used the one with water to rinse his mouth and he used the other to spit into it.

2)      What was your first reaction to reading about the “colossal douchebag” on a 72 TTC bus?

I'm actually glad the victim didn't attempt to retaliate after the alleged suspect pushed her. We live in a society where we have no idea the headspace of another person. Does he have a knife? Sometimes it's best not to engage or push back, whether physically or verbally. It can get ugly real quick. Generally people move a bag or feet when asked, but the reaction of this man, that's very telling all is not well upstairs.

3)      Any nice transit stories to share? There have to be some nice people out there!

GO Transit has some amazing bus operators (and front line workers) who go above and beyond the duties of the job, and I have fellow passengers who have big hearts. The nicest act of kindness I witnessed was when this elderly woman boarded a bus on my route. She had never taken GO Transit before and was heading to St. Mike's to visit her sister who had suffered a massive stroke the day before. Her husband had died earlier in the year and with no family nearby, transit was her only option as her husband did all the driving. The driver made sure she got on the train okay and myself and two other passengers stayed with her during the ride and helped her navigate Union Station and get on the TTC subway. The man who was with us then walked with her from Queen subway to St. Mike's and said he would pick her up after he was done work to help her get home. Despite everything I've covered on my blog, I still have faith in humanity.

4)      Have any of the “inconsiderate” commuters that you have posted or written about contacted you after and perhaps even apologized?

I can recall three people who I confronted directly approaching me after the fact to admit they were out of line. If anyone has "recognized" themselves in a post, no, no one has come forward to apologize. But I have received emails from people who feel they must come to the Church of the Crazy Train and confess their commuter sins of not paying fare, riding with wet boots or shoes on seats, or using seats as their personal luggage compartment.

5)      What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to commuting?

"Backpersons" aka backpacks. I have no idea why people going to work need to carry their worldly possessions with them. Some of these backpacks are the equivalent of carrying a 4-year-old on one's back and most backpack folks are oblivious to the amount of room their backperson actually take up, especially on a subway. Second are those folks who travel with wheelie suitcases. I was tripped once by a person who crossed over right in front of me, completely unaware of the dangers her sudden lane change caused as the crowd moved through Union. I happened to be carrying a Tupperware container of muffins at the time for a company bake sale. They didn't make it. Third, the "Oh my god I need to phone my aunt and tell her all about my gynecological results" cellphone yappers. No one needs to hear your personal business.

6)      Three rules all commuters should follow:

1. Be aware - you're not in a bubble. Check the volume of your music and your mobile notifications.
2. Keep your feet off the seat.
3. Keep your personal life to text messaging.

7)      When did you start your blog and why?

February 2010. There wasn't any other GO train blog online. I had been posting status updates about funny commuter incidents or gross observations on Facebook and friends suggested I blog.

8)      What has been the feedback to your blog (from the public, perhaps even the TTC or GO officials if they ever contacted you).

I like  to think I provide an amazing public relations service for Metrolinx. I am on good terms with GO Transit representatives and have great respect for their customer relations team and their security team who, if I get wind of a story or am told something I think is wrong or needs investigating, they are always willing to provide guidance about how to address the issue and what to write to my audience. Brad Ross of the TTC is one of the most amazing examples of what an effective front line ambassador of customer service is. The TTC needs to hang onto him.

9)   After all the horror stories, do you ever consider commuting to work another way (i.e. by car)?

I have no desire to own my own car ever again. I decided at the end of 2011, and when my lease was up, to go car free. I'm richer for it (a savings of almost $8000/year), healthier for it, (I've lost over 80 pounds) and I get to engage in situations with people, good or bad, that I wouldn't have while isolated in a car. It's not for everyone but it suits me just fine.


Skin Man said...

I don't know why, but I am always so comforted by the fact that it appears that those with the influence to change the commuting experience hear our tiny voices.


Bicky said...

Great interview.

Jenn said...

What about the woman with the service cat? Didn't she write in to apologize? Or at least acknowledge the craziness of the situation?

C.J. Smith said...

I totally forgot about service cat's owner writing in.

David said...

I'm a backpacker. Always have been. Since I'm not into man purses, or shoulder bags, a backpack is my go to option. Its not always full (usually only have a book and bicycle helmet in it), but I do fill it up with books for my kids on occasion (I work at a book publisher). I guess I'll try to be extra conscious of the space it takes up from now on. Amazing that a year on the train and I'm still learning things about commuting.

C.J. Smith said...

Hi David
Your backpack actually serves a purpose. It's the hobos I worry about.