Sunday, 30 October 2011


In tragedy, we find statistic. As cynical and cold as that statement may sound, Jamie Hubley's recent passing, and the media coverage puts an exclamation point on it.

I have to be absolutely blunt about this subject, and if you are easily offended by talk of being gay, please do us both a favour and click the red “X” at the top right hand corner of this page.

A.Y. Jackson school flew their flag at half mast, mourning Jamie's death. The principal was quoted in various newspapers as being saddened, mourning, and various other “right things to say” when something like this happens. Do you want to know what I would have wanted to hear? How about “I'm sorry for letting this young man down. I simply cannot believe that I let an entire school pick on the gay kid until he could not endure the torture any longer.”

That would at least be an honest quote.

All of a sudden, the student body cares about Jamie Hubley. All of a sudden, the faculty and the school board are springing into action, correcting those bullying problems. All of a sudden, Jamie Hubley becomes a martyr to the bullied, a face to the progressive changes they're all going to make, and fodder to the ever-hungry media machine looking for the next cause.

What an absolute load.

I listened as Lowell YellowandBlue took to the airwaves each day last week, turning the subject over and over until he progressed from “Bullies are bad” to “Stand up for yourself”, and inevitably to “The bullied need to punch the guy in the nose”. Yeah, that'll fix everything.

One problem. Jamie Hubley didn't have a bully. Like many young gay men, he had an entire student body dead-set against him, disgusted with him, harassing him, making fun of him, discriminating against him, treating him like all bigots treated him. This wasn't a case of Matt Dillon picking on him for lunch money, and there was no Linderman waiting in the wings to be his bodyguard. This was a case of good old fashioned bigoted oppression. If I were a parent of a kid at A.Y. Jackson, I would be tearing that school down brick by brick trying to find out why the faculty allowed such blatantly cruel bigotry to exist in my kid's school.

As I watch Jamie Hubley's death turn from what it actually was into another statistic that glosses blatant homophobia and discrimination into a much more palatable “Bullying Issue”, I can't help but think how little we have really progressed as a society in terms of discrimination against gays. We say all the right things, sure. We tolerate the parade every year, yup. But we also must be teaching kids our bigotries and personal hatreds to have them act as they did at A.Y. Jackson, no? Where else do our kids learn to hate like that? Seriously, how the hell can an entire school turn it's back on a kid, make him drink from the coloured water fountain, make him walk through the coloured entrance, make him sit at the coloured lunch table, and not understand that each and every student, teacher, and administrator participated in this young man's torture?

A.Y. Jackson, are you seriously going to suggest to me that you didn't know this was going on? Have you read this young man's public diary? You'd have noticed if he had an ounce of weed on him, that's for sure. But a huge burning S.O.S. on your front lawn, with the entire school participating in a crime? Nope. Never saw it, right?

At some point in life, can we all just admit we hate gay people enough to treat them like garbage, so we can at least work on coming to the conclusion that we're stupidly wrong about them?

What right does anybody in this world have to judge how a person loves another person?

I have no idea how to end this rant. I've been sitting on these words so long because I have trouble articulating anger. My heart goes out to the Hubley family. The pictures, the blog, Allan's words on the radio were all so hard to digest. I can see myself in Allan's shoes, mourning the loss of one of my kids. I can also see myself as that high school student, alienated, picked on, alone.

My prayers are with you, kid. And I am sorry, because when I was your age I said the things people said to you. I'm sorry because I didn't work as hard as I could to change things for you now that I am your father's age. I can see that now.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Count on Us!

OC Transpo has rolled out it's "Count on Us" campaign this week. As you have undoubtedly noticed, photos of local employees are pasted all over the place, with slogans extolling the many contributions our fine coworkers make each and every day. I work with a great bunch of people, to be honest. Yes, we have some grumps. But I think if you really get to know your driver, you'll notice that there are more of us nice-guys than grumps.

I really like this campaign. It will boost morale to be treated like real live human beings.

Now here at Drives In Circles, we pride ourselves on getting the inside scoop. You don't come here to read about things you already know, do you? You've come to expect things to seem a little different after a visit here. Well, hold the presses. I have located a stash of rejected "Count on Us" posters that never made it to the printing stage. These were ideas thrown about the boardrooms of 1500, debated upon, mulled over, scrutinized, sent to consulting companies, and ultimately rejected as pure satirical parody.

Drives In Circles would like to point out that the preceding pictures are pure parody, meant to give you a chuckle! No actual posters were harmed in the making of this blog.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

If Roses Had Noses, Would Romeo Still Smell As Sweet?

I often find myself thinking about what it would be like to see the world from a different perspective. You see, I'm privileged. I'm healthy, strong, fed, happy, able bodied... you get the idea. So each and every day, I drive this big steel contraption around, picking up people and dropping them off. It's all a big routine. I get up early, and make a thermos of coffee. Next up, the Crunchy Peanut Butter sandwich, and pack an apple. Off to work. I grab the same work docket every day, and head out to grab whatever bus I get assigned to drive. Then I drive in circles for a few hours, picking up the usual suspects, grab sips of coffee on the go, take tickets, and give transfers to the same folks day after day. I try to smile at most of them, especially the few "dumpfaces" I get every day. If I can get a person who always walks around looking like they need a good dump to SMILE!, that's a score for me. Mind games keep me sane, sort of. Day in, day out... routine. Same roads, mostly the same traffic, people, delays, repeat... repeat...repeat.

And then I meet someone who changes the way I think about everything.

"What the hell are you idiots thinking, anyway?" she asks me as I'm just getting ready to close the door.

I had just emptied my bus at the end of my line, and here's this angry looking woman pulling up to my door in her wheelchair. She wasn't on my bus, and I had nearly just closed the door in her face as she was trying to (for lack of a better term) "talk" to me.

"I'm sorry?" I replied, thinking this wasn't going to go well, regardless of what I said at that moment in time.

"No you're not. You're not bloody sorry. Pathetic." She stammered out, and hit the joystick on her chair, whizzing off.

I wheeled my bus off the platform, rolled over to a layup spot, and used my three minute break to eat the remaining half sandwich I had started earlier. Time flies when you're having lunch. Sandwich done, I rolled onto my stop to start my next trip, and guess who's waiting for my bus.

We had a short greeting, acted as if nothing happened, and rolled onward. A few minutes into the ride, I hear:
"I'm sorry, by the way."
She then goes on to explain to me that the driver of the previous bus had simply sped off on her as she was trying to open a door. She felt she had made eye contact with the driver, but he just left. The next bus on that line was in three hours, and now she had to take my bus and use her wheelchair motor to bring her the extra estimated kilometer it would take her to get home. She was running late and had real things to do.

This really got me thinking. How many times have I lamented putting out that ramp, for the extra few seconds it would take away from my sandwich?

Can you imagine being in someone else's shoes? How about their wheels?  I spent the better part of the next few days looking at the obstacles this woman must face. I mean REALLY looking. At sidewalks. At stairs. At garbage bins left in her path. At restaurant tables and booths. At the steps to my home. I tried to imagine life from the other perspective, and found my own willpower lacking. I stopped looking for the remote control once after a few seconds, heading directly for the T.V. button on the front panel. The path of least resistance does not exist for a person who relies on a chair to get around.

I'm trying to think of how my actions affect people every day by thinking of where people are coming from and where they are going. I'm deconstructing my routine, and thinking about how all these connections work for everybody. I'm trying to see things from the other perspective in every situation. I even discovered that the song "I'm in love with a man nearly twice my age" goes from sweet love story to creepy-uncle in no time flat when it is seen from the perspective of "I'm in love with a girl nearly half my age".

Drivers, try this. Passengers, you too. Try to let your mind see your driver as a human being, waking up to head off to his job, thermos in hand, things on his mind, a routine day ahead of him.

How many times do we drive around, walk around, sit around without actually connecting to each other? Do we ever really think about how we can make people's lives better through simple actions? I think the most simple of actions can change your world.

We're all human beings after all.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A Little Explanation

I had a little, ummm, "episode" that essentially destroyed all of the blog posts from previous months and replaced them with something I'd rather not reprint.

I had originally attributed this attack to a chronic complainer that emails me regularly to let me know what a self-important ass I am. There were undeniable similarities between the hacker's post on here and the emails I had received.

Upon further investigation, I am convinced the two events are unrelated.

If you happened to see this posted page a few days ago, I sincerely apologize. I should have used a stronger password.

I will rebuild the posts I have saved, and continue posting in the future. Thanks to the people who took the time to email me the words of encouragement. You know who you are.