Saturday, 28 January 2012

Three Sides To Every Story

Passenger held hostage on an OC Transpo bus, reads the headline. I'm surprised to see it in the Ottawa Citizen, as it sounds a little more Ottawa-Sunish than something I'd read in the paper I get delivered to my house.

I have nothing to add to the story, as I don't know the driver or the passenger, and I never drive that route.

That's part of her side of the story. It gets weirder.

Passenger Not Held Hostage On Bus, reads the headline. Same byline, but a different version of the story. According to a witness on the bus, the driver had activated the rear doors allowing anyone to freely leave the bus.

And that's when the twitterverse started piling on. I had a brief exchange via Twitter with the complainant. (@drivesincircles for those who want to know my Twitter handle, but be warned, I'm not all-transit on there).

A little hashtagging, searching, and reading panned out some pretty harsh abuse of this young woman. Now, regardless of how you feel about this story... Maybe you're a driver. Perhaps a passenger. Or, you're just a reader of all-things-Ottawa, let's get one thing straight.

There is no need to abuse this woman based on what you read in the newspaper. Drivers, we know how the media treats us. Much of it is uncalled for. Much of it is unfounded, or really taken to contextual extremes in an effort to support interest in a story over factual accuracy. So why on earth would you expect this story to be factually accurate?

I don't understand why this young woman would take this thing to the press other than to say she's 19 years old, and likely doesn't have the 20 or 30 years experience of reading newspapers to understand that calling a company like OC Transpo onto the carpet via the media causes them to circle the wagons and draw in the curtains the way a professional city media relations team will do. The media is quite possibly the worst place to air grievances when it comes to city staff complaints. The canned responses from the city are quite predictable. They put so much English on negative stories that Madeleine Meilleur has put an official bilingual policy complaint on city media hacks.

The driver in question may have done the right thing. His provable actions are that he stopped his bus, called the control center, and waited for his supervisor to fix the situation. We have nothing more to go on, as the rest of the story is he-said/she-said. This seems to be following policy to the letter. We have no idea what the lead-up was to this driver initiating this protocol.

I implore the folks using twitter (and her now defunct blog) to bully this woman to STOP. You weren't there, you don't know Jack. You don't know her. You haven't got the right to say what you are saying. So stop embarrassing yourself and act like a fucking adult.

I believe her when she says she wants actions taken. I have no doubt that she is being truthful in her statements about the situation and how it happened. I have no reason not to believe her. It is perfectly plausible that two rational people can overreact to one another causing an argument just like what seems to have happened here.

Ever sat in your car at a recently-turned-green light for an extra few seconds? How does the overreaction of that guy behind you strike you? It happens all the time.

I also have no reason to doubt the witness in his assertion that the driver had the doors set to "active". This would be an easy thing to miss if you were pissed off and waiting for authorities to show up.

There are always three sides to every story. His side, her side, and the truth. Somewhere in between the first two, we always lose sight of the third.

Regardless of the outcome of their 'investigation', the company should just apologize to her and get on with their business. The customer is always right. And that, is the real truth.

1 comment:

  1. "The customer is always right. And that is the real truth."

    The way we've seen drivers dumped on recently, by the city and the media, it's apparent that this is the official policy. But it's also a complete and utter fallacy in the real world.

    There's a great article on the subject here:

    Quote from the masthead: "Let me get this straight: The company will side with petulant, unreasonable, angry, demanding customers instead of with me, its loyal employee? And this is meant to lead to better customer service?"

    That's not the only article on this topic by far, either. "The customer is always right" just leads to people feeling and acting entitled. It's no more a truth than his or her sides of this story, whatever company policy says otherwise.