Thursday, 28 June 2012

Another Strange Story

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the mom on the 94 bus who was separated from her daughter.

I have no new information on this story, I'm a news reader just like the rest of you. But the pieces I'm reading are a little confusing.

The way Mark Brownlee puts it in the Ottawa Citizen, the driver simply slammed the door, ignored everyone, and drove on. But on the Lowell Green show this morning, the woman who called 9-11 phoned in and put a little more context into the story. What strikes me as odd is the fact that the 9-11 caller didn't seem to know if the mother spoke English. The 9-11 caller didn't talk to the driver. The 9-11 caller didn't really do anything except call 9-11, the Citizen, and Lowell Green. The other passengers on the bus all just "looked at each other in disbelief".

Every media outlet in the city reported that the child was found two hours later by police. Bollocks. The child wasn't found at all by police. They didn't find any unattended child at all at Iris station. The only report of a missing child came from the 9-11 caller on the bus. In fact, there isn't even a complaint from the mother to OC Transpo. John Manconi has sent out a plea for the mother to come forward. The complaint to OC Transpo came from the 9-11 caller, who said on the Green show that she got the woman to 'nod' when she asked her if that was her daughter. The mother didn't make a scene.  For all we know, the child got off with someone else they were travelling with. It might not have even been her child.

To read Brownlee's column, you'd think there was an amber alert-worthy scenario here. Apparently all the child molesters hang out at Iris station. (Hey, doesn't OC Transpo have some white vans?) It's strange how a child alone conjures up the stranger in the woods scenario. I'm one of those weird parents who encourages his kids to play outside. At a park. Near the forest.

In reality, my first fear would be that the child might try to chase the bus, as my son did when I drove the moving van that moved my family back when the lil guy was 5. Reading the comments under the various media articles, that makes me a horrible parent. Kids never get loose of their parents' grasp. And if they do, they must be texting no-brained idiots. Kids never get away from good parents. Ever.

Totally unfair to mom, Citizen comment trolls. Get out of your basements and have sex sometime. (That's where kids come from) The idea that getting separated from a child on a crowded bus makes you a bad parent comes from the same people who think leashes are a good idea, and that "play-dates" isn't the stupidest term ever invented. Kids will find ways to do unexpected things. From the sounds of things, this kid stayed put and waited for mom to return. That's not good parenting, it's GREAT parenting.

I'd really like to know the details on this one. Is it really a case of a driver's rigid adherence to policy? Is this that weird state of analysis paralysis that years of repetitive work seems to foster? Did the driver really understand what the fuss was about?

Or, is the driver right in thinking that rather than trying to drop off a woman on the shoulder of an 80kph highway during the busiest time of the day, it might be safer to bring her right up to Baseline station where she could cross the street and be back at Iris station within minutes, possibly faster than the time it would take her to walk it?

I'm not going to play John Quinones here and go all "What Would You Do" on you folks. I can see scenarios where I might drop the woman off right on the shoulder and walk back with her, and I can see scenarios where I'd advise her to ride with me to Baseline station and flag a bus going the other way because that would be faster and safer. Either way, it's a call to the control centre and there would be action. I wasn't there. I won't judge the mom or the driver.

If you know this mother, call OC Transpo at 613-842-3600. They want to hear from you. (I don't, so save me the trouble of deleting the "Drivers are idiots" hatemails until the rest of the story gets out. This is just commentary on news)


  1. Great post. I especially like the line about all the child molesters hanging out at Iris Station. I too thought it was quite a leap to the creepy forest scenario. Personally, I think it's far more likely that a child alone and frightened at a transitway station would encounter dozens of adults who would instinctively want to help her.

  2. Good point Zoom! I bike by the Iris intersection regularly and you'd have to be a pretty pathetic pervert to hang out in the woods being bitten by mosquitoes, on the off chance a kid would wander by alone. Plus there are bus shelters on both sides of the transitway. A tempest in a teapot, perhaps.