Yes, I've Driven Rob Ford, Lately

Today, I gave Toronto Mayor Rob Ford a lift.

There he was, I was almost certain, walking along Jasper Avenue across 101 St, and there I was, I was pretty certain, watching him walk in front of my car as I waited to turn and head back to work at ATB Financial.

"Mayor Ford," I said, throwing my arm out the window with a handshake offer, "welcome to Edmonton!" He took the offer, and there we were, I was still fairly certain, shaking hands, he on foot, me in the driver's seat, at Edmonton's major intersection.

He asked me which way to city hall, and I started to explain the route, but then offered to give him a lift. At first, he politely declined, but I asked again and he obliged, and slipped into the backseat.

In the five-block drive we talked about the Leafs' playoff chances, Corey Boyd's ouster from the Argonauts, the Edmonton Eskimos and their defensive prowess, the construction cranes in the city, his recent appearance on TSN's Off The Record, the beautiful weather in Edmonton, the lack of humidity. I pointed out where I worked and showed him the Art Gallery of Alberta. I got to brag a little about my city to the mayor of Toronto. When we got to city hall, he jumped out.

He thanked me for what he called western hospitality and gave me his card.

I got back to the office and tweeted: Just gave @TOMayorFord a ride to #yeg city hall. Saw him on Jasper. Talked Argos, Esks, Leafs, humidity, construction cranes. Welcome!

And then things exploded on Twitter and conventional media for the next couple of hours. I was interviewed by CTV Edmonton, The Edmonton Journal, Newstalk 1010's Friendly Fire, Toronto's CP24, The Globe & Mail,  The Toronto Star,  CBC Radio Calgary -- and by my mother, who phoned to say she saw me on TV and that I looked good. Thanks, Mom.

The Huffington Post  ran with the story the next day. The Calgary Herald  got on board with a Ford story of their own. The National Post chipped in.

The Ford Escort (thanks to rmac for that!) episode put a couple of thoughts in gear.

Of course, there is the irony of it all. Those who follow Ford know that he has recently had to explain himself after being photographed reading papers while driving on the Gardiner Expressway. So far, he has withstood the calls to hire a professional driver, preferring to drive himself around. Until offered a ride by a stranger three provinces over.

(There's the double irony of the fact I was driving back with a colleague, Stephanie, who had just presented a seminar on effective use of social media.)

Besides the irony, there's some moral of the story about taking an opportunity when it presents itself walking up to you, and not looking back and saying, I should have said something!

And there's a lesson about what makes a story. We spend a lot of our time planning, scheming, plotting, budgeting, following plans, editing to get it just right, and, rightly, to some extent, what comes out of all of that reasoning is who we are. But not all of who we are. Because there are moments, Ford moments, maybe, when what's more interesting and intriguing and noteworthy is just the opposite. It's what happens off script.

And sometimes it takes two to bring it back and make that story a little more human.

Today, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford gave me a lift.

Me and the backseat of the Ford car

Comments

  1. A nice account. Ford doesn't get many of these kinds of stories and, as much as I dislike him, he could use one or two. Well done.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the good word. It was a very cool afternoon!

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