On Friday I related the lamentations of David Francis of Wooster, Ohio and how his 15-year-old daughter, lacking ID, was rather brusquely ejected from a Capitol Corridor train by an Amtrak conductor.
This could only have been a sign from on high that I need to pay more attention to the downside of transit as I zealously attempt to keep my car parked and redeem my Commuter Checks.
But a call from Priscilla Kalugdan, the Corridor’s marketing manager, also reminded me that a gaping vacuum in this space cried out for the rest of the story, to quote Paul Harvey.
As I suspected, Francis’ perceived runaround by Amtrak, which he said involved never getting back to him about the status of the conductor’s disciplinary proceeding, would be somewhat mitigated by the Corridor, which pays Amtrak to run the railroad.
“It’s terrible what happened to her,” Kalugdan said in an admission I have rarely heard from a public agency.
“We’ll certainly be sending a letter of apology; I’m drafting one right now,” she told me this morning. “That isn’t how we want people to be treated.”
What’s more is that Amtrak, after mulling over the complaint, decided to eject the conductor in question from the train for 30 days without pay, she said.
“She was very kind, she said she’d make it a priority and `take it to my team,’ ” Francis told me when I reached him in Ohio this evening.
But that didn’t make everything better, however.
Francis said that while the conductor had been punished, his daughter, Isabel, had not had a chance to face her humiliator.
As Francis had explained, somebody at the railroad had promised him a hearing, at which her story could be told.
“It wasn’t OK with me that one the guy was back at work without (her) having a chance to confront him.”
But the guy missed a month of paychecks, I pointed out.
“To me, the real issue is that I’ve got a kid that’s been publicly humiliated. There’s never been anybody who said that hey, `I’d like to write her a letter of apology,”’ or for that matter, anybody to “let this guy know that hey, this is not OK.”
“I’ve trying to give my daughter positive life lessons. The lesson here is that if you stall long enough and get the union to back you up, you can treat somebody like s— and never have to say you’re sorry,” Francis said.
While it would be nice if we could all face down the people who make us feel less than human, things rarely turn out that way. Even if this were to go to court, which Francis told me in our first conversation that the was not inclined to do.
A month without pay, as our teen-aged children will eventually discover, is no slap on the wrist for mistreating a customer in a situation where, thankfully, nothing worse happened as a result.
On the other hand, I don’t blame Francis for wanting the wheels of justice to turn in the manner promised. I also don’t think I’d be so quick to forgive and forget, either. But if some supervisor decided to mete out punishment swiftly and sternly, that’s something I’d also support.
All too often, we end up waiting years for such processes to run their course, only to be disappointed with the results.