Friday, January 22, 2010

Napping employee has me rethinking my thoughts about privacy

If you read this blog regularly (thank you), you know I am a big believer in privacy and generally not a fan of the many ways in which technology has infiltrated our public and private lives. I have also said that I am immensly thankful that cell phones, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc. were not around when I was a misbehaving teen and a reckless 20-something. Some of my more impulsive antics would have provided great fodder for today's online rubberneckers and I (and everyone else of my generation) really dodged a bullet there.

My general position is that, just because you have the ability to snap a photo of someone and send it around the world, doesn't mean that it's appropriate. But, something happened here in Toronto recently that has me rethinking my views on our right to privacy. If you live here, you already know that yesterday, commuters on our subway system witnessed, photographed and shared a photo of a fare collector in full slumber (reclining, eyes closed, mouth open) as he was "working". As I write this, the photo has gone viral and news is spreading around the world.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is investigating the situation and my normal response would be to echo their request that we not "jump to conclusions" but this time I'm going to break my own rules and declare this unacceptable. This is not the place to rant about my belief that unions breed complacency but, as an entrepreneur who has steered my company through the worst recession in my lifetime with zero government help or support, during which time I had to bear the injustice of a garbage workers' strike based on ridiculous, outdated demands, I have had enough!

The taxpayers of this city have put up with too much for too long and, all things considered, have been very loyal, gracious and patient with the TTC in the face of ongoing fare hikes with no improvement in service. From an etiquette point of view, I have to say that I have always been disappointed with the level of service of TTC fare collectors. Even though I always greet them pleasantly, most never even raise their heads when I try to buy a ticket and many manage to conduct the entire transaction without lifting their eyes from their newspaper. I walk away feeling thoroughly invisible.

As a result, this group has failed to build any goodwill with me and I have difficulty digging deep to find any compassion for this particular employee. So, this time around I'm going to go against my instincts and, I say to those who would share this photo virally, post away! Maybe it will finally shake things up.


  1. Louise - Amen, amen, and amen again! I witnessed an outrageous incident of bad behaviour by a TTC employee last Friday on my homeward commute [read it here if you're interested:].

    I, like you, used to think that it was the fair thing to do to provide this information to the TTC to investigate - which I did, direct to Adam Giambrone - but as you correctly state, the situation with the TTC has been one instance of bad behaviour after another, with absolutely no indication on the part of the TTC organization that they feel ANY obligation to provide the appropriate oversight and response to their paying customers.

    I'm with you on dredging up any sympathy for this individual. You snooze, you lose!!!

  2. Thanks for your comments and for sharing your own awful customer service story. These organizations don't seem to realize the importance of constantly building positive relationships with clients. That way, when something bad happens, they will rally around you. When you've spent years treating your customers poorly, you get what you deserve. P.S. You snooze, you lose! is a great headline. Wish I had thought of it.

  3. I agree with what you wrote, and I am not a fan of people who don't contribute to custmer service, especially on my dime.

    However, the ridicule that the fare collector has been exposed to has been far beyond the actual transgression.