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Story Unmasked: Thomas OseiAning, Bus Operator (Manitoba)

Interviewed by Bronson King

How have things been different for you during the pandemic (personally or in your job) compared to before the pandemic?

Smiling at people. My face does not show my emotion. People have not been as expressive with their emotions as they were before the pandemic started. I feel like I am obligated to socially enforce the rules of social distancing during the job. It’s frustrating when people don’t abide by the rules. It makes me feel like people don’t care. One person told me that COVID-19 does not exist. I feel like it’s important to consider people’s individual situation when trying to enforce social distancing. For example, elderly people who require walking aids. Using context to gauge when someone is not following social distancing rules can be difficult.


What's something about your job that most people might not know about?

Bus operators in transit usually work split shifts where they have to return to work twice in a day. I feel like lots of people think that bus operators don’t really do this and just get to work one consistent shift throughout the day. All of my weekdays are likes this. This can make it difficult to maintain a proper rhythm and get into a good routine of healthy work-life balance. I respect that all of the other bus operators have to do this, but I think it is something that should be noted when people think of bus operators.

The City of Winipeg

How have you coped and managed with the difficulties of Covid-19?

There was one point where I was definitely going through a hard time. I was operating the free bus lines in Winnipeg and when COVID started, it made things difficult for people who were experiencing housing difficulties. You could see and smell the psychical struggle that these people were going through. There was nowhere for people to use the necessary facilities and this was really heart-breaking. I had to take some time off of work in order to process things and cope with the situations that I saw.

You could see and smell the psychical struggle that these people were going through. There was nowhere for people to use the necessary facilities and this was really heart-breaking.

What’s one good thing you would say that has come from the pandemic?

There are two things:


1) Relating to my job, I feel like it’s made me a better bus operator. There are less people on the bus that I am picking up because lots of people are working from home or avoiding bus entirely. It makes me have to manage my time more accurately and on point. It has made me more conscientious of the timing points. Timing points are specific times the bus is scheduled to be present at certain stops.


2) It has made some people aware of how they are affecting others. On the bus, I see when people give appropriate space to get on and off the bus. I feel like lots of people are adapting and showing that they care about other peoples’ safety by doing so.

Our actions can affect the health of others directly and detrimentally. I think that there is for sure something good that has come from this. People have learned things about how their actions affect other people.

What’s one thing that you hope will change once everyone was gotten vaccinated?

Honestly, I really am excited for when things go back to normal! Something funny is that I want to have a mask burning party. I believe this would be cathartic and it would help everyone process what the last year has been like. On a serious note, I feel like everyone could learn something from the previous year though. Our actions can affect the health of others directly and detrimentally. I think that there is for sure something good that has come from this. People have learned things about how their actions affect other people.


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