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Sandi Gibbons Praises Richard Lee’s “Get Onboard: Walk in the Shoes of a Transit Operator”

get onboardIn a recent article by Sandi Gibbons in The Toronto Tribune, Gibbons discusses Guernica author Richard Lee’s new book Get Onboard: Walk in the Shoes of a Transit Operator. Gibbons begins by acknowledging how illuminating Lee’s book is, “have you ever wondered what the view and experience is from the driver’s seat? For the first time ever a TTC employee has penned a compelling book that takes readers on a unique journey from the operator’s command centre”. Gibbons emphasizes how Lee’s novel reveals the difficulties faced by TTC operators, something that TTC passengers take for granted. Among these include the abuse faced by TTC operators by passengers and strangers, as Lee explains, “Some people take to social media and other outlets to express their displeasing experience with the transit system. I read a tweet once and it said, ‘The TTC is great in Toronto. Said nobody ever.’” These responses prompted Lee to write a book “that is filled with real life stories from the perspectives and experiences of the TTC operators”. These stories focus on the many ways that TTC operators “deal with the pressure of the media, being scrutinized by the public, the potential danger of threats, jumpers in the subway, long shifts, exposure to hundreds of people with hundreds of different personalities, and much more”. Gibbons concludes by stating that “those who read Get Onboard and who travel on the Toronto Transit System will have a greater appreciation for the operators and will no doubt gain a better greater respect for them as human beings”, ending with the instruction, “it is time for you to Get Onboard and to walk in the shoes of a transit operator”.

Richard Lee’s Get Onboard: Walk in the Shoes of a Transit Operator draws on the stories of TTC operators, and the physical and mental stress caused by this occupation. This story is paralleled with the author’s own personal story, of a broken family home, abandoned teen dreams and a desperate need to be loved and appreciated. In spite of the author’s personal demons, and the daily abuse he faces from the public, he manages to overcome these obstacles by deciding to be the best at whatever he does.

Get Onboard is Richard Lee’s first novel, which was written when Lee began to trust his natural gift for storytelling. Besides this accomplishment, Lee has been driven by a fear of only ever being an “average man”, which has helped him to become a supervisor today with the Toronto Transit Commission.

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