Saturday, December 4, 2010


Last January, a story broke in our local media. A rider on the public transit system had taken a photo of a sleeping t.t.c. ticket collector who was on duty and the photo had been distributed widely. It was published in the news media and people yelled about the poor work ethic of people in this position. At the time, I was really uncomfortable with the story - there's always two sides of a story and I know that I have had days at work when I would not have wanted to have had my photo taken.

Last Monday morning, we got more of the story. The ticket collector died last week of a stroke. He had stated publicly last January that he had been resting due to health problems he was battling and obviously, given that I believe he died at the age of 58, his health was not good. When I heard of his death, I was struck by a feeling of deep sadness. This poor man, in poor health and with an excellent work record of 29 years with the T.T.C., had been humiliated in the media by someone who had not bothered to look into the story, to discover what was truly happening in this man's life.

I couldn't shake my sadness and as I reflected on this story, there were two things that really came to my mind. The first was the connection to bullying. There has been so much in the media of late about bullying and its impact on members of our society. I can't help but see this man as being the victim of bullying, as well. Nobody bothered to ask about him, to find out the true story, to see him as a human being with human failings and human struggles. Instead, we reacted with moral outrage at the laziness of workers in our system. We humiliated this man and used power to hurt someone who was already suffering. Every one of us who bought a paper, watched a newscast and didn't call the paper or the network to complain about this kind of reporting participated in beating on a dying man. Wow, we should be so proud.

My other thought was that it was interesting that the story resolved at the time we are preparing for Christmas. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of the one who we claim to follow and honour, the one who would show compassion, who would find out what troubles this man was facing and the one who would have offered healing and concern instead of criticism and arrogance, we show the true depth of our compassion and it is pretty shallow. Our celebration really smacks of hypocrisy.

We should all be so ashamed. I only hope that the individual who took the photo is able to hide from the camera on his or her worst days and that we all receive a measure of compassion greater than the one that we measured out.

1 comment:

  1. I agree - I read about that after his death and wondered why we didn't hear this at the time, why it was not really reported, and why the TTC didn't come to his defense at the time the way they "honoured" him once it was too late. Such a shame.