the big pomegranate

Shot to death

George Robitaille, 55, suffered a stroke and died. Remember George Robitaille? No? How about "The Snoozing TTC collector". Rings a bell? Remember the image of this TTC fare collector leaning back on his chair with his eyes closed and mouth opened? Did it make you laugh as it made laugh one half of Toronto? Did it make you angry as it made angry the other half? How do you feel about it now? Maybe I should not forget to write that he was on a number of medications including heart medication that contributed to him falling asleep at work. He revealed that in the public apology that he felt he had to offer and that the Toronto Sun displayed as a trophy in his Pulitzer deserving article "Snoozing TTC collector offers apology". The same Toronto Sun that put the shot of George Robitaille on its front page and whipped the hysteria over it, in a time where newspapers were all about the catastrophe in Haiti. Are you still laughing? Are you still angry? Yes? Well maybe you also need to hear that George Robitaille had worked for the TTC for 29.5 years, and for the first 29 he had a flawless record. He was even recognized as a hero in the mid 1990s for saving the life of a disabled man. He was a dedicated, fun loving employee who prided himself on customer service. That's right! Customer service! The same guy who was picked by the great Toronto Sun to be the poster boy for lazy public service employees who are "wasting tax payers money" and do not "deliver customer service excellence" that became instrumental in George Smitherman and Rob Ford campaigns. Maybe you also need to hear what Warren Kinsella -who is not exactly Joe the Pinko- did say: "Today, we learn that the man in photo is dead. He was sick, and apparently sick at the time of the photo, too. He left the job he loved, ashamed of what had happened, ashamed that he had hurt the reputation of his colleagues. He had worked for nearly three decades with an unblemished record.Why am I drawing attention to this? Because it isn’t the exception; it’s the rule, now. Because it should make some people - a lot of people, actually - feel ashamed for how this story ended. Because, when our collective memory is determined by a Google search, and nothing is worth saying if it isn’t expressed in 140 characters, and the “news cycle” is shorter than a sound bite, and analysis is thinner than piss on a rock, this how things are going to be, from now on: someone’s life, captured in a completely unrepresentative moment, is completely destroyed. And no one gives a shit". George Robitaille leaves behind a son.

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