Thursday, June 21, 2012


That the bus was a half hour late was both surprising and concerning. Surprising because they are almost never late in picking me up in the morning, concerning because this was the one morning in the last month that I simply couldn't be late. I had a conference call scheduled. I'd left myself a bit of leeway, never planning to be at work exactly on time, but not enough to accommodate both the time lost and the significant increase in traffic that would come with the delay. When the driver arrived I asked him about what time he thought I would get to work, I explained to him that I had an important meeting. He said he'd do the best he could do but that he had another person to pick up and drop off before he could take me to work. I was frantic with anxiety, I don't like being late.

Once on the bus I heard him radio in and ask if they could move his next pick up to another driver so he could get me directly to work. Then the dispatcher and a few others chatted and the ride was reassigned. He could take me directly to the office. On the way there he told me that he'd been driving for WheelTrans for a very long time and from there we got into a chat about accessibility, people's attitudes and prejudices about disability. This guy was awake to the concept of disability prejudice and had a real understanding of the disability community. He spoke with the ease of someone who'd graduated at the top of the class in a disability studies programme. It was awesome.

He got me to work early.

I had time to prepare for the call.

What struck me about all this was the immediate kindness of the 'organization' behind the service and their willingness to adapt to meet one person's need. What impressed me even more was that a 'long timer' in direct service provision had had his heart and mind opened by his experiences. He had the ability to be flexible and the desire to provide the best possible service - he had the babit of kindness. So often, those of us who've been around a long time, can lose the 'will' to 'flexibility' and the 'desire' to 'serve.' I am guilty of that myself sometimes when I'm asked for the millionth time to be understanding ... and I forget that I took this job because I thought I had that to offer ... yikes.

I was provided excellent service by an individual and the organization behind him.

I want that said of me.

I want that said of the agency I work for.

I hope it sometimes is.


John R. said...

Really wonderful news. In the "field" I come into contact with human service "professionals" who seemingly LOST the whole reason for their profession. I think that kindnes really does transcend disability, oppression and all that other stuff...the root of human service, in any form, is kindness. I too hope that my organization and I are viewed that way most of the time. Glad you were able to make that important conference call on time and with reduced stress thanks to the driver....thanks Dave!!!

Anonymous said...

Why was he late in the first place? To me - that is disrespectful of those he is picking up - as if someone with a disability couldn't have anything important to do. Thirty minutes late is a long time. I'm glad you think that is excellent service. It may be good recovery - but I wouldn't say excellent service. I'd rather see the service up front.

Dave Hingsburger said...

He explained to me that he was late due to a problem picking up and dropping off the customer before me. Let's remember that I live in Canada's largest city and I live right down town ... traffic is unpredictable at the best of times. My morning ride is on time more than 90 percent of the time - I think that is a pretty good track record.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I agree with you. Service can never be 100% perfect - stuff just happens. But this guy and his management sound like they have the right attitude and that counts for a lot.

This is making me think of something I have started saying to my students. A lot of people come into our program saying they want to be support workers so that they can "make somebody's day better" or "make somebody's life better". By the "better" part they mean their version of better. So one day I just lost it on a group of them and said, "You are not Suzy Sunshine! Your job is not to make someone's life better - your job is to help them live the life THEY want to live. If you do your job well then they just might have a better day or even life. But remember that your job is not to make their day better but to assist them to have the day that they want. Anyway Suzy Sunshine can be kind of nauseating."

So I think that this driver was doing just that - he didn't try to cheer you up and make your day "better". He did his job and did it well and that ended up making your day start out well.

Is this making sense? His service is just the opposite of those people you have blogged about who have tried to do something "for" you even when you have explicitly asked them not to. Suzy Sunsine at her annoying worst!


Utter Randomness said...


On time 90% of the time in downtown Toronto? What is their secret? Other transit networks could learn from this!