Another Positive OC Transpo Experience

Three years ago, I shared a story that was similar to this, and I like to point out when somebody clearly really cares about their job and makes my day better because of it. I know, not all bus drivers are amazing, but I think it’s worth recognizing when you have a really positive experience.

This morning shortly after 7 AM, my bus (the #12 towards Bank/Slater) was rumbling down Montreal Road towards Den Haag, and I was stuck on the wrong side of the street, willing the light to change faster so I could catch my bus. It has been a snowy morning, and I was hoping I wouldn’t have to wait another ten minutes getting colder if I missed this bus due to bad timing.

I’ve been hearing the announcements on the bus recently about how you shouldn’t run across the street in traffic against a light to catch your bus (obviously, because that’s super dangerous), and so I resisted that urge and stood helplessly stranded, hoping the light would change faster.

Fortunately, I managed to make eye contact with the bus driver, who I recognize as I arrive on time for this bus about 25-50% of the time. The crosswalk had already started counting down, and when the bus pulled up to the stop, the count was at about 10 seconds. At this point, I was fully prepared to wait for the next bus, and I would not have faulted the driver if he had just continued on his route. However, he let the last few seconds of the light run down, waiting for me as I hurried across the street.

As I got on the bus, he thanked me for not running across the street against traffic, and I thanked him for letting me cross the street and get on his bus. It made a difference of a few seconds to the other passengers (if they even noticed anything out of the ordinary), but it absolutely made my morning! Bus drivers can get a bad reputation sometimes, but they are people who have good days and bad just like everybody else, and I think it’s worthwhile to point out and share stories about the good ones.

I’ll be submitting this story as part of a report to OC Transpo giving positive feedback about my driver this morning, and I hope this gets back to him. It’s very uplifting having somebody recognize that you did something nice for them, and we could all use a little uplifting these days.

Transgender people are still people, obviously

Imagine going through life every day and having so many of your interactions involve somebody trying to give you a hug and stepping on your foot while doing it,” Prince, a 31-year-old trans woman in Alexandria, Virginia, said. “And then when you ask them to step off your foot, no matter how polite you are about it, they respond with, ‘Oh, excuse me, I was just trying to give you a hug.'”

This series on Vox is remarkable and honest. I’m not sure I can do justice talking about it, and I encourage you to go read the whole series.

What it comes down to is that it doesn’t matter how people choose to live their lives. Being assigned the wrong gender at birth, or having genitals that don’t align with your perceived gender or don’t fit into our neat, tidy definitions of ‘normal’ doesn’t make anybody less of a person.

As anybody who has ever been bullied for being ‘different’ can attest, it absolutely sucks. For humans, it has been evolutionarily advantageous to sort things into distinct groups and categorize them as such. But treating human beings that way, as though some are inherently more deserving of human rights or legal protections than others, simply because of how they choose to live their lives, is absolutely devastating.

In the last couple of weeks, we have seen big musical acts like Bruce Springsteen cancel concerts in North Carolina over a terrible anti-LGBT law that passed there, and more of this needs to happen. Lawmakers need to be responsible and consider the needs of all constituents, not just those who represent the majority.

I don’t personally know anybody who is transgender, but it’s just so blindingly obvious to me that those people are just as deserving of love, care, and compassion as anybody else in the world, if not more so.

> Transgender stories – Vox

Car crashes kill an absurd number of people

The numbers are so huge they are not easily grasped, and so are perhaps best understood by a simple comparison: If U.S. roads were a war zone, they would be the most dangerous battlefield the American military has ever encountered. 

I take the bus to work, and I absolutely love walking and biking. There are certain niche uses where a car is essential, but in an urban centre like Ottawa, many people can get around without relying on a car.

Having said that, just as many people, if not more, absolutely DEPEND on a car every day for transport to and from work and other social obligations. Most of this is because housing in big cities (Ottawa to some extent, Toronto and New York, for example, just take the example to astonishing extremes) is very expensive, so people choose to live where it’s cheaper, work in the urban centre, and commute for 30-60 minutes by car.

That thought is crazy to me. Even though I spend a ton of my life listening to podcasts, which are pretty perfect for car trips such as that, the thought of getting into a car every day to drive to the office is not something I think I’d enjoy that much.

Adding to that, we tend to think of car crashes as a tiny risk in our day to day lives, and it gets worse as those lives come to rely more and more on absolute certainty of normalcy. If our pizza is late, it’s free. If our Uber takes 10 minutes, we complain. When a bus breaks down (or doesn’t show up at all), we’re late for work.

But in a life (and society) where things are so safe (#firstworldproblems, anyone), the fact that any of us could die in such a quick, violent way on any given day is cause for alarm. We put car traffic above everything else in our transportation system, and yet it’s responsible for so many totally preventable deaths on our roads every day.

At some point, self-driving cars will take over, and crashes between two of those will be as unlikely as a plane crash is today. But for now, we’re stuck with an incredibly convenient transportation method where countless unknown cars around you are capable of completely changing, or ending, your life in an instant.

That’s scary, but it gives us something to strive for, and I think car culture as it exists now might be nearing its peak.

> The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life – The Atlantic