Posted by: righthandblink | January 31, 2009

The Bus Strike was Good for Ottawa


Ottawa has long been known as being a very apathetic community. The definition of apathetic is “having or showing little or no emotion” or “not interested or concerned” or “indifferent or unresponsive.” At least that’s the way the rest of Canada views us. It’s like we in Ottawa are in a trace. It’s safe and boring.

But it started to change. We had a wake up call. One of the basic facets of life, that we took for granted, wasn’t there anymore. The OC Transpo drivers went on strike. It will be close to 55 days without the buses here in Ottawa by the time they go back to work. The ease of which we had getting around in this city disappeared overnight. And it’s been cold out there too. Temperatures at times have reached minus 35 degrees C.

They thought the city would come to a halt. But it didn’t. People had to be creative to be able to commute to work or do their day-to-day necessities in the cold winter. Businesses were having a tough time of it. Some people had to spend their spare hours and energy walking through snow drifts to get to and from everywhere they had to go.

But some people actually benefitted from the strike. We’re not going to get in to the politics of it here right now. There’s time enough for that in another article. So who benefitted? For once the cab drivers weren’t complaining. They must have done quite well and are probably are not happy that the strike is over. The Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun got a lot more ad revenues with the City of Ottawa and the Amalgamated Transit Union buying chunks of pages explaining about what was going on with the negotiations. There was also a lot of space dedicated to sources for rides and independent assistance about how to get around during the strike.

And the city saved lots and lots of money. They must have needed it. But don’t be too hard on the on the politicians. They are doing the work of two people; Laurel and Hardy!

YOU also benefitted. Let’s face it. You got lots of exercise that we were sorrily lacking. You got more fresh air than we have ever had before at this time of year. You did get to work probably with rosy cheeks and an inner sense of vitality. We started to feel good. People were alive.

But something deeper was happening to us. We started to get back to what’s truly important. We’re actually starting to care again. Now don’t get me wrong here. We are all caring people. But the strike forced us to widen out. We started to care about people who were strangers to us, whom we never met before. And it’s a good time to start caring like this because we are now going to go through some difficult times with this economic downturn. We’re going to need each other.

Here’s just one example; On January 23, 2009, the Ottawa Citizen carried a front page article titled “The Survivor: She walks 12 hours a day to save job.” Anna Kraisingerova came to Canada from the Czech Republic about 12 years ago. She works a night shift at a Barrhaven grocery store and had to walk six hours to get to work because of the strike. When her shift ended, she walked back to her apartment at Carling and Bronson.

This article sparked a lot of interest in our Capital. Dozens sent e-mails and telephoned the newspaper in response to that story. There were three pages of contact numbers received for Anna. Each person on the list was reaching out to her. People opened their hearts, and their wallets to Anna. Some even offered to open their homes to her. Several people offered to build their day around Anna’s schedule. A couple of retired police officers offered to drive Anna back and forth to work.

What was most striking about the responses was how many people offered to help when their own lives were already filled with commitments and responsibilities. The offers to help cut across partisan politics, income levels, language, and other social divisions that tend to keep us apart, rather than bring us together.

Our city is a better place because of the compassion and generosity of the citizens.

I think we did so well helping others get around that maybe we don’t need OC Transpo anymore. We can save the city even more money that they are going to have to spend to get the riders back on the buses.

You probably won’t agree but we’re better off for the strike.
Don’t go back to sleep now!
Remember what you had to go through.
We’re better off for it. We are invigorated. We’re alive!


Renewable, Green and Healthy . . . for a Sustainable Tomorrow!
© 2016, Right Hand Blink

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