The Bus Monitor

By the Menzoid

Unless you were exploring the outer reaches of Uranus lately or have your head up your you-know-what recently, everyone knows the story of Karen Klein, the elderly bus monitor who was savagely teased and humiliated a few days ago by a small mob of Grade 7 and 8 loogans.

Hey, bad stuff happens all the time. What’s really telling is the reaction by various interests to the bad stuff. To wit:

Lesson 1: The school continues to play defence.

The school has posted a response on its website to the now-viral YouTube video. But there’s something noticeably missing: namely, outrage – the sort of outrage millions of decent people the world over are feeling. Check out some of the comments from the school’s pansified principal, David Richardson:

“Certainly the behavior of the students on the video is a clear violation of our district’s Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated. However, it is not appropriate for the district to discuss the specific disciplinary consequences that will result for any individual student.”
Indeed. God forbid we should violate the privacy rights of these little monsters.


“I need to stress that we have a specific process that we must follow before imposing discipline on students. In the event that a district is seeking a suspension of more than five days, the district must prove the student’s violation of its Code of Conduct in a due process hearing before a hearing officer.”

Wait a second… why is there a “burden of proof” issue in regard to this matter? Whatever happened to the camera never lies? And didn’t the principal just state in his opening salvo that “the behavior of the students on the video is a clear violation of our district’s Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated.” What gives?


“We have received thousands of phone calls and emails from people across the country wanting to convey their thoughts. People are outraged by what has happened and they feel the students should be punished [but] we cannot condone the kind of vigilante justice some people are calling for. This is just another form of bullying and cannot be tolerated.”
Once again, a school defaults to classic Hug-a-thug mode, proving yet again that like most schools and school boards today, anti-bullying policies are all about accommodating, not punishing, the bullies.

Lesson 2: The response of the parents.

Amazingly, this is still a giant X-factor. We don’t know if they’ve disciplined their kids or if they are molly-coddling them. Certainly, there has yet to be an apology uttered. I guess Elton John was right: sorry seems to be the hardest word.

But then again, The Menzoid will bet the ranch that the parents have legal representation by now and the lawyers have told them to not say anything as a mea culpa could be interpreted as an admission of liability.

Sadly, such parental entitlement exists: more than a decade ago, The Menzoid spotted a letter to the editor of the Toronto Sun. It was penned by a school principal. Finally, The Menzoid has a reason to reproduce the contents of this missive. Fasten your seatbelts, folks, for it is a shocking indictment of how some parents approach child-raising.

In the Letter of the Day (dated April 4), Daniel Morse makes some excellent suggestions about keeping our schools safe and clean. One suggestion was to “divide the students into small groups and get them to clean a small area of the school.”

He must be kidding.

Most people, including Morse, do not have a clue about what goes on in today’s schools.
As a principal of a large school, I asked a student to pick up a pop can and a chip bag from the hallway – garbage that he had just thrown there.

This triggered three lengthy meetings with his parents and their lawyer. They wanted to sue me for forcing their son to do menial work at school instead of “educating” him.

According to their lawyer, my action in asking him to pick up garbage constituted unusual, cruel, and demeaning punishment.

Morse’s idea makes perfect sense but it would be impossible to implement. If the general public would educate themselves about what is going on in our schools these days I think our teachers might receive a little more support.

R. Hastie

Lesson 3: The Menzoid is overjoyed that the generosity of others has led to a half million dollar pay day for Karen Klein BUT…

Of all the analysis The Menzoid has come across regarding the Karen Klein incident, the bull’s eye was hit by The Menzoid’s friend, Andrew Lawton. Andrew runs a website called the Landmark Report. Here’s his take:

Whether or not Klein will receive the apology she seeks is still unknown, but she will be receiving a large sum of money for her ordeal. Neither Klein nor anyone in her family requested this money, and it is her choice as to what she does with it. But she doesn’t deserve it.

The more-than-16,000 strangers that have donated to Klein in merely a day are hopping on a bandwagon that made the bus monitor the overnight poster-girl for bullying. However, Klein’s reality is just as real to countless young children and teenagers who endure this ridicule on a daily basis. Those youngsters aren’t blessed with six-figure donations for their troubles.

Every epithet and threat Karen Klein had to endure on her fateful Monday afternoon bus ride was one of the many that I heard on a daily basis. I’m not alone.

Nearly all of the bad words in my vocabulary today are there because they passed through my ears as I cried my way through elementary school and high school for years. I’m not jealous of Klein’s receipt of such a substantial gift – although, if such a campaign were started for me I doubt I’d complain. My issue is with the thousands of people who found it so easy to put their credit card number into a website to help a woman unknown to them a week prior rather than taking action on the broader bullying epidemic.

Parents of bullies are often ignorant to their children’s schoolyard behavior. Parents of the bullied are usually kept in the dark by their children. Parents of the bystanders are just happy their children aren’t in one of the other groups. Everyone has a responsibility to take an interest in bullying. Writing a check is not taking an interest.

What happens when Karen Klein cashes her check and the world moves on? Until another video gets posted, likely nothing.

We shouldn’t need to wait for evidence of one person’s troubles to be blasted across televisions and radios around the world to be aware of an issue that will outlive the hype of Karen Klein.

McDonald’s comes clean

By the Menzoid

Ronald McDonald has finally fessed up: yes, folks, the images of food used in McDonald’s ads and menu boards are heavily doctored.

It brings to mind that great scene in the 1993 film Falling Down in which a machine-gun-toting Michael Douglas walks into a McDonald’s (well, it’s called “Whammy Burger” in the movie) and orders a Double Whammy Burger with Cheese. The laid-off defence industry worker is served a pretty lame looking entree compared to the drop-dead gorgeous burger depicted on the menu board.

Well, almost two decades later, the clown has come clean.

With some clever tricks and fancy lighting and a dash of digital editing, it turns out you can indeed make a Quarter Pounder With Cheese look like a work of photographic art that would make Annie Liebovitz blush. And that’s exactly what McDonald’s does:  they dress up their food with all kinds of fancy editing and lighting. And that’s not all: they also make use of a trick in which the food stylists stack all the “goodies” near the front of the burger. The result? A lopsided sandwich – but wow, it sure looks superb from certain camera angles.

In a surprisingly honest P.R. move, McDonald’s Canada has put together a tell-all video to answer a customer’s question regarding the appearance of ad burgers vs. real burgers.

This video takes the viewer behind the scenes to show how the Golden Arches makes their food look so perfect in commercials.

Hey, it’s almost akin to the Colonel spilling the beans on what sort of herbs and spices he uses on those deep-fried drumsticks.

And it’s not as if McDonald’s is employing false advertising. The company is using the exact same burger patty, bun, and condiments in its ads as it does in its restaurants. It’s just that if you want your burger to look like a thing of beauty, it’s going to take more than an hour to prepare. And, of course that would totally negate the entire rationale behind “fast-food.”

Kudos to McDonald’s Canada for admitting the truth rather than putting some dumb P.R. spin on things that nobody with an I.Q. over 10 would ever swallow.

Indeed, contrast McDonald’s honesty-is-the-best-policy with what Volvo did in 1990 when it aired an ad showing a monster truck crushing every vehicle lined up in its path – except for the Swedish sedan.

What Volvo neglected to tell the folks at home was that they structurally-reinforced its car so that it would withstand the weight of an oversized truck rolling over it. Meanwhile, rival vehicles were structurally weakened.

The rivals were crashed like rusted out Coke cans while the Volvo remained immune.

Alas, just about everyone smelled a rat. And sure enough Volvo and its ad agency were eventually fined $150,000 each by the Federal Trade Commission.

But that 300 grand was chump change compared to the P.R. black eye Volvo received, especially since the company is so gung-ho when it comes to promoting how safe its vehicles are. Safety claims fall flat when the average Volvo off the lot does not come with a roll cage as standard equipment.

Lesson learned: be honest with customers and they will respect you; deceive them and watch those customers turn into rabid wolverines.

Dear hit-and-run driver, your rudeness has been noted

ANDREW CLARK – The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, Jun. 20 2012

The note left on my windshield was succinct, as such notes often are. “Chrysler Dynasty (Beige) Hit Your Back Left Wheel. Approx 11:35 a.m.” The author had listed a licence plate number but had not included his contact information. He was an anonymous concerned citizen, not quite a Good Samaritan, who wanted to alert us to the fact our car had been subjected to a parking lot hit-and-run but not become involved as a witness in the pursuit of the driver responsible.

The incident had occurred in Niagara Falls, Ont. My wife was covering a Ringo Starr press conference and had parked the car in a hotel lot. After seeing Ringo sing With A Little Help From My Friends she returned to find “the note.” Upon arriving home she offered up the evidence. To me, the situation was clear.

“Did you forge this note to cover up the fact you hit another parking lot wall?” I asked her.

I could tell by the stunned, outraged, shocked, horrified, slightly dangerous look on her face that this was not the case.

We inspected the damage. It was minimal: a few scratches on the rim above the wheel. In normal circumstances, these would not be worth reporting to my insurance company and certainly not something to bother law enforcement officials about. Had the driver left a note I would not have followed up.

But the driver of the beige Chrysler Dynasty had broken a fundamental law. When you hit someone’s car and they’re not around to yell at you, you leave a note. It’s not your place to decide whether the damage warrants reporting, that is for the person whose car you struck to decide. You simply take responsibility for the accident, no matter how big or small. That is why, as George Bluth Senior so rightly put it, “You always leave a note.”

I’d left a note in the winter. I was driving down a narrow street on a February night and I slightly nicked a parked car’s side mirror. I pulled over, took a photo of the scratch with my iPhone and left a note. It told the car’s owner that I’d nicked his mirror and it contained my name and phone number. The damage was negligible.

I never heard from him.

Just as the Chrysler Dynasty would not have heard from me, but he didn’t give me the chance to be reasonable. Like anyone who hits and runs, he decided to try and get away with it. As hours passed, I grew angry imagining the evil person bragging to his cronies about how he nicked a Dodge Grand Caravan and then split. He was dangerous. He wasn’t going to play by the rules. I considered contacting the hotel to see if they could go through the camera footage. I had no witness but did have the licence plate, make of car and time the incident happened. They might be able to provide footage.

Then I would be free to seek justice, to spend half a day stuck in traffic travelling to a reporting centre and then more time reporting it to insurance and the police. Then, perhaps, an appearance at some small claims court where stunning footage of a loser driving a beige Chrysler Dynasty hitting a black Dodge Grand Caravan would be played before a hushed courtroom. All this time and effort would be put into a person who was so low they were not even worthy of wearing my spit.

That’s not hyperbole. If you are the sort of person who hits someone’s parked car and then takes off without leaving a note, you don’t belong here on planet earth. You belong in a fiery pit spinning on a spit watching endless repeats of The Beachcombers. This is basic morality. We’re not talking Sophie’s Choice here. Just be a man (or a woman) and own up. Look, I’m not foolish enough to use the words “modern civilization” and “common decency” in the same sentence but if it were possible, this would be the time to do so.

To the person who left the note I say, “Next time leave your number. I would have called to thank you.”

To all future parking lot bandits I say, “Why not leave a note? What’s the worst thing that might happen?”

You might have to pay a bit of money for damage that you caused. Might.

The best-case scenario? The other driver calls and thanks you for leaving your details. We all make mistakes, they say, but the important thing in life is being dignified enough to take responsibility for them. You enjoy talking with this person and the two of you agree to meet for coffee. You hit it off and start dating. In a few years you marry and have three wonderful kids. You live together happily for the rest of your lives. ALL BECAUSE YOU LEFT A NOTE!

And what becomes of a person who doesn’t? Shortly after fleeing the scene it begins to dawn on him: he’s broken the law. He realizes the accident was probably recorded on video or that someone might have seen him and that someone may have left a note. There is a chance he’ll be called to account for his crime. His life is going to be a combination of the end of Requiem for a Dream and the beginning of Midnight Express. All he can hope is that the other guy is so phlegmatic he doesn’t bother wasting time pursuing the pathetic wretch who hit and ran.

That’s if he’s smart and dishonest.

If he’s stupid and dishonest (the more likely of the two) he’ll just plant his butt in his seat and drive off. A happy crooked man driving a beige Chrysler Dynasty in a happy crooked world.