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Written by D.L. McCracken
Monday, 20 April 2009
Dann Little, loving husband, devoted father and no doubt friend to many died alone and defeated last Saturday in his home somewhere in Middle Sackville, NS. He was only 55 years old. The day before Mr Little died, he was fired by his employer, Metro Transit.
Andrea Little, his wife while speaking to a local daily newspaper reporter said that her husband had been facing surgery in the near future in an effort to repair a blocked artery leading to his brain. Dann had been stocking up on his sick time in preparation for the time off required to recover from brain surgery.
Many will remember Mr Little from an incident last month involving a Metro Transit driver who stopped his bus in order to show his disapproval to an anti-sealing rally on Spring Garden Road. Yes, that was Dann. On Friday he was fired for his actions that day.
A blocked artery like Mr Little’s will eventually result in a CVA (Cerebral Vascular Accident) more commonly called a stroke. Many people with blocked arteries to the brain will suffer several TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks) or mini-strokes before having a debilitating stroke. But more immediately important in the case of Mr Little is another symptom that some people with blocked (or partially blocked) arteries to the brain will experience, depending on which part of the brain is affected – periods of altered cognitive behaviour and/or judgment.
Going back to the stuffed seal incident and taking into consideration Mr Little’s health concerns, what I’ve put forth above could explain why he did what he did that day.
Now I don’t know Mr Little and I’m basing my comments on what I read as put forth by his wife. It was an easy task to take the information regarding his health problems (and pending brain surgery) and putting that together with his odd behaviour to come up with a plausible reason why he acted in such a bizarre manner that day.
Add the fact hat he had been taking an antidepressant medication for two years, and the conclusion I would arrive at would not include firing the man but offering him as much time and assistance as could be put forth by his employers.
Instead, his employers – Metro Transit – having faced several other bizarre and unfortunate incidents involving other bus drivers took the easy way out and at the same time, decided to use Mr Little as an example of some sort of new zero tolerance policy when it involves complaints from customers – they summarily fired Mr Little.
So much easier and tidier for them is it it not? The guy was a loose canon…who else after all would do what he did that day? Who else in their right mind would stop his bus with passengers on board, jump out, run to an anti-seal hunt demonstration on the busiest street in Halifax and proceed to pretend he’s clubbing a stuffed baby seal toy and then calmly get back on his bus and drive away? Who in their right mind would do that?
It’s obvious to me that Mr Little was not in “his right mind” that day and we the public now know why – the blocked arteries to his brain. And the antidepressants which in themselves can cause thoughts of suicide as well as exacerbate the symptoms of depression.
But Metro Transit found themselves in a bit of a bind what with all those other nasty little incidents lately…they had to do something, take a stand, placate the public, make an attempt to convince the public that they actually know what they’re doing over there in Metro Transitland. And don’t forget about that powerful example-setting stance. Mr Little and his activities were just the ticket.
I wonder who actually fired him. Was it just one person or did they have several HR suits in the room? Perhaps even a company lawyer or two for good measure. I wonder how long it took the suits to make the decision to fire Mr Little…or was it just a matter of placing him on forced leave with the intention of never allowing him back. Did any one of those Metro Transit suits actually think about Mr Little’s medical diagnosis? Did they consult with a neurologist before making their decision? Because according to his wife, Metro Transit was aware of Mr Little’s health problems.
And they fired him anyway.
Those lawyers I mentioned who might have been in the room when Mr Little was fired? Metro Transit needs to fire them too because I can see a huge lawsuit in the future against Metro Transit and their current legal staff are obviously incompetent. A competent lawyer would have advised Metro Transit to NOT fire Mr Little. Then again, maybe it’s just the HR suits at Metro Transit who are the really incompetent ones…maybe their lawyers did warn then against the action but being elite members of the Human Resources department, perhaps they felt like they knew way more than their legal staff. Yeah, that’s probably more like it.
To Mrs Little, her son and family and friends I want to let them know that my heart breaks for them. If I could offer one piece of advice it would be that they seek grief counseling immediately and continue for as long as they find it helpful.
Maybe Metro Transit will pay for the grief counseling as it appears they have offered the same service to current Transit employees who are reported to be upset by the news of their colleague’s untimely death. Well done Metro Transit! It’s only fair though – you caused the grief, it’s only right that you provide the counseling.
Tell me, has anyone from Metro Transit contacted Mrs Little or her family yet? Apparently there has been silence up to late Sunday night….anyone over there have the gonads to contact them? Or is the guilt just too overwhelming…?