Sunday, 4 March 2012

One Million Morons

Okay, here's the disclaimer. I'm about to Go There. This is my opinion, this is not strictly a transit blog. Yes I drive a bus, yes I frequently write about my job doing that,  no my company does not pay me to write this. Therefore, by reading on, you consent to the knowledge that I am stating my personal opinions about issues that matter to me. You know where the red X is, hit it now if you are a bigot.

I'll preface this by telling you that this blog entry was inspired by a passenger that I was trapped with for approximately 20 minutes. You don't need to know any more than this: This person made a few statements about a person crossing the street in front of my bus, and proceeded to lecture me on the evils of homosexuals.

Usually a writer would start off by stating his own sexual orientation. I wont, because in 2012, it's irrelevant.

If you don't live under a rock, you've likely heard of "One Million Moms"... a right-wing movement that purports itself to be a shield to the eyes of the poor American children from the evils of homosexuality. They want to protect you from Ellen, and the evils of JC Penny who carry her swag. Ellen is openly gay, and therefore is evil. Right? They don't want you to confuse a successful entertainer/actress with her own syndicated show, a decorated acting career, and a record of selfless philanthropy with a role model. Oh good lord no. Women were meant to do what the Bible says. And to make websites that organize other women to teach their children to hate.

"One Million". Sounds big. Really big. In actuality, they have far less than one million, but hey, who can count without opposable thumbs, right? The number commands attention, and makes it sound more credible. If the name were say, Seventy-Eight Moms, the media likely leaves the story alone. If the number was Sixty Nine Moms, we'd all have to play air guitar when we said their name. Can't have that. Originally, the name was rejected because of the "Big O" in the title. Can't have those either.

"Moms". Sounds respectable. Moms rule, right? Moms have your best interests at heart. Moms make cookies. Moms wipe noses. Moms help with homework. And now, moms hate homos. It's all logical, trust them.

If the name reflected the reality of the organization, it would more likely be called "A Couple Thousand Sexually Repressed Bigots". It doesn't have quite the same caché, but the sentiment is the same. This little organization is a "Ministry" of the American Family Association. The AFA has anti-gay campaigns running all over the country, and they have their hands in absolutely everything.  Here's a HANDOUT from their website lamenting Home Depot's decision to support THEIR CUSTOMERS. It's hilarious. What is the AFA doing in the breakrooms of Home Depot? Did they think the sign out front read Home Despot?

When did this kind of bigotry become so mainstream anyway? Dedicated organizations. Church support. Even the everyday lexicon of bigotry has changed. What exactly does "Homophobia" mean? You're afraid of gay people? That word was created as a justification of the bigotry. It's not even close to being accurate. It's simple newspeak that validates the hatred as some kind of affliction, like agoraphobia, or a fear of heights. It makes the bigot seem justified, and not to blame. It is a passive aggressive slur, plain and simple. Call it what it is. You are bigoted against homosexuals.

At what point in your life do you come to the conclusion that you, specifically YOU, have the knowledge, insight, and the absolute right to tell two people how they can love each other? What fucking arrogance.

How is it that these so-called "Moms" would rather see an orphaned child be dumped from foster home to foster home rather than be placed with two same sex parents who would provide stability, love, and a real home? Are they seriously worried that the kid will "catch" gay? Why are these moms so worried about the bedroom of others? Is there really much threat in the monogamous union of two people, whatever they may be?

Oh but homosexuality will undermine civilization, according to (I'm sorry, who?) Kirk Cameron. Ah, lil Mike Sever weighs in. Kirk has six kids, and apparently no idea how overpopulation has undermined many more civilizations than homosexuality. Just saying.

I'm tired of hatred and bigotry. Our lives are too short for all of this garbage. When I wrote about the Hubley kid, and how distraught I was that such bigotry exists here in Ottawa, I never once thought that an organization could exist solely for purpose of making gay people hurt. And they'll justify their bigotry with Bibles and quotes like "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!". Ha ha ha... So clever. Next time you hear that line, ask "Hey, didn't Jesus have two fathers?". Watch the blood leave their face.

Or they'll tell you they don't have a problem with gay people, "But if one ever hit on me..." As if all gay folks are trolling the local bar scene looking for you to change jerseys. Get a grip y'old stud. You're not that great to begin with.

I may not understand much about religion, but I'd like to offer what absolutely I'm sure of.

The Bible doesn't teach you how to hate people, and your God isn't taking attendance at One Million Moms meetings.

So do us all a favour and teach your kids how to love before you teach them how to hate. At least then they'll have the tools to recognize stupidity when they see it.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

It's Hard Not To Like The New Guy

First impressions are lasting impressions, and I have yet to meet a single employee in any garage that doesn't have a good first impression of John Manconi. His demeanor validates his reputation of being a straight shooter, trustworthy, and knowledgeable. Simply put, he seems the kind of man that is on the verge of getting Things done.

Having good philosophies and beliefs is not what makes you a better person, your actions do.

Directing that the 60" flat-screen be taken from his office and placed in the staff cafeteria was a great first impression. Seems like a really selfless thing to do, even if the T.V. was a presentation tool rather than a "perk" of his position. Agreeing to postpone and review the current booking is also a great step in staff relations, regardless of whether that was specifically his call. The work board is pretty horrible, take my word for it.

A driver was assaulted this week, a successful defense against two young thugs in the south end. John Manconi apparently phoned the driver at home to talk about the situation. Up until this week, a phone call at home from OC Transpo meant a little white-knuckle time wondering what you may have done wrong. That kind of phone call is appreciated.

Fifty some-odd grievances related to staff discipline have been dropped by the city this week. Co-incidence?

Lastly, the man speaks my language.

“We’re focusing on the customer experience and we know the only way to improve customer experience is if our employees are engaged,” Kanellakos told reporters Monday. 
“I don’t care what business you’re in. If our employees aren’t engaged, you’re not going to have a good customer experience.” 

Source-Ottawa Sun

I have been pushing for this since the inception of this blog. The only way this transit system can truly be great is if ATU local 279 is truly engaged in becoming a union that exists to serve people. Why the union angle? Because we are professionals. Because good collective bargaining begins with good service. Because we have the potential to be indispensable to this city.

The question is, how do we engage our drivers with our managers with the end goal of better customer service? We need to also get our clients engaged. The mechanisms that exist to engage the passenger with management are all negative conduits that depend on the squeaky wheel principle. People call OC Transpo to complain. People rarely call OC Transpo to spread a little butter on the corporate toast.

It's fine and dandy to say we want to get our workforce engaged in better customer service. The company can re-train its entire workforce every few months with every service tactic in the bible of Years Gone By. It simply wont matter if we don't get the customer engaged in the same goals. We need drivers and customers on the same page. After all, they're sharing the bus. When the passenger is late, stuck in traffic, the driver is there, late, stuck in traffic with them. When the passenger misses his bus and is picked up by the next one, the driver is there with them. When the passenger vents frustration... you get the point. We have a unique relationship with our clientele. At one point or another, we must all realize that what connects the passenger's needs to the decisions of management is the driver. It's us, and we need to start listening to what our livelihoods are trying to tell us.

Drivers, if you're still with me, we need to organize our thoughts and goals to shape this new focus on customer service. We don't need more printed pamphlets and meaningless talk. We've had years of failed programs and little progress with our service. Between the escalating assault rates, and the job dissatisfaction statistics, it's high time we begin to look in the mirror at what we can do to improve our workplace.  We need to lobby our union leaders to get on board with this new customer service mandate. We need a hand in shaping new policy, and new objectives.  We need to act as other trade unions do and begin to offer the kind of professional service you just can't get elsewhere. It's not only good for your customers, it is good for collective bargaining. There is so much in it for you, and so much in it for your customers.

Better transit begins in the most overlooked area of public transit: The person holding the steering wheel of your bus. Get involved.