Thursday, 28 May 2015

My Own Letter to OC Transpo

Jaimeson Wolf posted a letter on his blog to OC Transpo after witnessing a bus driver order an autistic child and his caregiver off the bus.  By Wolf's own admission, the driver is frequently surly and rude to the majority of the riders, which made this unpleasant but not unpredictable.

Wolf was greatly offended that someone would choose to be rude and aggressive towards a child with an obvious disability.  I agree with that offence, but would add that this driver's reported rudeness towards the world in general is equally offensive.  Hopefully, someone at OC Transpo takes a look and considers whether or not this individual should still have a job where he interacts with the public.

But I wanted to write my own letter because I feel it is unfair to leave things as is.  Alex loves OC Transpo and we've had almost universally positive experiences with them.  (I'd say 98% by my mental polling of memories.)  The drivers on our local route all know him and we often get a wave when we're outside or on a walk.  One time I couldn't find his pass and the driver told me not to worry about it and took us home anyway.  (I found it later wedged underneath some toys in the backpack.)  Another, knowing of Alex's love for the double-decker buses, told us that the next bus would be a double decker and advised us to wait.

The drivers here have gone out of their way to be pleasant, friendly and helpful.  In bad weather, they've dropped us closer to our house rather than making us walk from the bus stop.  They've stopped and waited for us when we're running to the stop. 

None of this negates the experience which Wolf witnessed and none of it excuses such bad behaviour.  But surly and aggressive drivers are the exception, from my experience. 

Do I worry that Alex will encounter such a person?  Of course I do, it's inevitable that sooner or later, we will hit someone having a bad day or who is habitually rude.  That is just a part of life when your child doesn't have a visible disability but also doesn't conform to social expectations.  But I hope he will understand that they are not typical.  In fact, he'll probably be able to dismiss it faster than I will since he won't spend time worrying about the social implications.

We'll still be riding the bus though.  And we'll be enjoying it.

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