Commentary

Tim Ross is a hero because he cares

Last May, Minneapolis Public Schools bus driver Tim Ross saw two kids wandering on the sidewalk, looking none too sure of their whereabouts. So, he stopped to make sure they weren’t lost. When Ross opened the doors, the boy ran off. The girl got on the bus. Last May, Minneapolis Public Schools bus driver Tim Ross saw two kids wandering on the sidewalk, looking none too sure of their whereabouts. So, he stopped to make sure they weren’t lost. When Ross opened the doors, the boy ran off. The girl got on the bus. Turns out that, indeed, the children had no idea how to find their way home. Ross finished his route. After dialing 911, he waited 45 minutes at his last stop for police to come and make sure the little girl made it home safe and sound. Can you imagine how the parents — who’d doubtless been out of their minds with worry — felt when the child (and hopefully her brother) were finally returned to them? Do you appreciate what a difference it made that Ross did the decent thing? This is, after all, a day and age when predators are not only on the look-out for unescorted innocents, but actually hunt them down, carry them off somewhere and do all manner of unspeakable things to them.

Consider, now, a scenario from January of this year. A different Minneapolis Public Schools driver leaves a five-year-old girl by herself at the bus stop when the daycare provider (who regularly meets the bus) isn’t there. The daycare provider has, in fact, provided for such an eventuality because the unexpected takes place — that’s why we call them accidents. Who knows when you’re going to trip over the cat, lose your balance, bang your head on something and wind up lying on the floor, incapacitated for however long? Even if you don’t own a cat, any number of things can happen in a given household; kitchens and bathrooms being, as a matter of fact, where most accidents occur. This is why the daycare provider (who realizes stuff happens) had arranged with the school, in the event that the bus is not met, for the child to be returned to the school and a call placed to her home. The little girl is walking all alone, a hand-delivered target for the nearest prowling pervert. Even if she makes it down the block, she may end up standing outside the daycare provider’s home, knocking on the door and, as each moment passes, growing closer to being in harms’ way.

Thankfully, the daycare provider is simply but a half-minute late — just in time to watch the bus turn the corner and head off down the street. The child is retrieved and all, as they say, is well. Why, though, didn’t the driver take the humane, extra step to look out for the child, instead of dropping her off, unattended? Answer: the driver’s attitude is that, if the daycare provider isn’t there to collect the child — and this is a quote — “It’s not my problem.” Even, assuming the driver had another route to start out on, how much would it have taken for her to cart the kid along and, soon as circumstance permitted, return her to the school so someone could make sure this defenseless little person was kept safe and sound?

After all, we’re talking about a human being, not a bundle of newspapers. The school’s bus-liaison’s response to the situation was, “The policy is that someone should be there at least five minutes before the bus arrives.” Well, policy be damned, there’s such a thing little people’s safety being held as a priority. The attitude of the driver and the liaison concerning the well being of this young life is unconscionable. Had the child gone missing, snatched by some nearby miscreant, and wound up with her picture on a poster, the driver and liaison would’ve perfunctorily bemoaned her fate, yet ultimately rationalized, “It’s not my problem” and “The policy is….”.

Ross wasn’t a superhero. He just did for those two children presumably what he’d hope someone would do for a child of his. As for the incident with the other child and her bus driver, the liaison couldn’t be bothered to give a damn one way or the other. The problem here is that schools are morally responsible to care enough, about children placed in thei

February 10, 2003
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