Monday, 7 November 2011

The Video, The Rant, The Public Backlash

Well, I assume most of you have seen the video of an OC driver lashing out against what has been described as an "autistic" 20 year old passenger.

The victim's response can be found on the CBC website, here:

It's all pretty compelling, no? I must admit, on the first glance at the original YouTube video I thought the passenger was somebody else altogether. Most of the drivers I spoke with thought it was a tall blonde kid who frequently rides the bus and has a very aggressive demeanor when it comes to talking to the driver. The kid most of us thought was the victim is quite well-known as a guy who will quite literally talk your ear off. Turns out it's not him.

Now, I honestly cannot defend the driver's language. What he said could be a criminal offense, I will let the the story play out. I don't condone the driver's reaction whatsoever, and I simply cannot understand what tipped the driver off in that direction.

Having said that, if you have not watched the video of this young man on the CBC website, please watch it now before you read any further.

Was this a set up?

That kid who was interviewed is also the author of these:

Do you spot a little Borat in these little videos? Juxtaposed alongside that interview, and having watched a colleague absolutely lose his mind in reaction to something this kid said to him on his bus, I cannot help but wonder what actually happened last Thursday morning.

Was he filming this with the same crew that filmed these:

Is he what he seems to be in the media reports, or just an actor?

To get a reaction like he did, what could he have possibly said? After a little investigating, I'm really hoping that the media will use the same zeal to find out a little more about this "autistic" boy, and whether this could have been something that was designed to rile up a driver and get some good footage to garner a little attention.

As usual, the union has stuck its foot in its mouth by bringing up the videotaping-in-the-bus defense again. For once, I might actually agree with them, but only after the fact. The correct response to an allegation such as this is to reassure the public that this is an isolated incident, and that the investigation needs to play out before we judge the driver. I'm getting really sick of the standard union response that comes off as being defensive and arrogant enough to suggest that the guy who was yelling that he was going to "open the door" might not have been the driver.

Mercier's response was actually pretty bang-on. He reassured the public that this sort of thing shouldn't happen, but that major initiatives have been ongoing to create a more positive relationship with passengers. He didn't isolate the driver in his response, nor discuss what kind of disciplinary action might be taken. That is in fact the correct way to handle this. No public tongue lashing, no crisis mindset, no acknowledgement of the media circus. You can read his memo here:

As this story develops, I think we may see another side to this. I hope the driver recovers from whatever is eating him, and I hope we can all help him do it. If you know him, please support him. You don't have to support what he did, but think about the last time someone riled you up on your bus. We've all been spit on and assaulted, verbally abused and insulted.

Until we get the facts, we should not be too harsh on him. If we ever get the facts, I won't be surprised to see a twist to this story.

*edit: The links are no longer working as the author has removed them from his YouTube account. I would imagine there was a reason that he would erase his antagonistic Borat style videos of himself trying to get people to swear in Arabic in front of their kids, but I honestly can't think of what that might be.


  1. Aren't there little Borat's on the bus all the time?!
    What is the protocol is such situations?
    Do you have any recourse?

    I agree about the union and OCTranspo position. The language is wrong. I used to teach gr. 8 anger management students and never resorted to this kind of thing!
    Well written. Glad you spoke up.

  2. We don't ride the bus in Ottawa often, but we have friends that do and this kind of behaviour (abuse of passengers by the bus driver) is not rare, it is somewhat frequent. We have seen it, although not to the same degree as that shown in the video. We know people who have actually bought cars so they could stop riding the bus after experiencing repeated unpleasantness. One woman we know was brought to tears by a driver who ridiculed her for not having her transfer in head when she entered the bus.

  3. Your hearsay testimony of driver's meanness is unreliable as a convincing argument, because you don't ride the bus. Please stick to things you know from experience.

  4. I ride the bus often and have had nothing but positive experiences. The drivers on the routes I take are pleasant and polite. Just this morning, the driver waited as I ran a city block to catch that bus. I thanked him and said good morning. He replied good morning and you're welcome.

    Last night, I was waiting at the Mackenzie King Bridge and a 95 came to a sudden stop. Something had clearly happened on the bus because a woman was crumpled on the floor at the entrance and the bus was emptied, save for the driver and 2 (I presume) witnesses. One of the OC Transpo supervisors sprung into action and was directing traffic. Response times were quick, 20 minutes at the most. I just remember being very impressed with the professionalism of all involved. In fact, the response to this emergency overshadowed the fact that the bus I was waiting for never actually came.

    Thank you, Drives In Circles. I appreciate and value the service you and your colleagues provide.

  5. I, too, have only had positive experiences. I ride the bus every day. The majority of complaints I hear are about things no public transit system can control, such as traffic, weather, and other passengers' etiquette.

  6. Good work for finding the other videos and the agent profile of the young man. There's actually a criminal charge called "public mischief" for behaviour like this. I notice that the 3 YouTube vids you linked to are gone.

  7. Thanks to all who responded, your kind words mean the world to me.

  8. I hope these two idiots (the guy filming and the autistic actor) are pleased with themselves now that they cost this guy his job.