OTTAWA—“Most people think their stuff is more important than other peoples’ stuff,” says Sheldon Vestige. “In my case, it’s actually true.”
Vestige, a product demonstrator and infamous public transit rights activist, became tired of angry confrontations with fellow transit riders in the National Capital Region who were unhappy with his use of extra seating.
“I don’t have an office, so my office travels with me,” he explains. “Is that so hard to understand?”
Apparently, it was. After being forcibly pulled from a number 97 and thrown to the street by an angry mob at Hurdman Station, Vestige complained to OC Transpo Police, who sided with the other riders.
“While we can’t condone the violence of their response, we do understand it,” Constable Melcher said, under condition of anonymity. “I mean, have you met this guy? Five minutes into the conversation I wanted to pummel him with my truncheon. God, I can’t wait for the taser rollouts in 18 months.”
Vestige subsequently complained to transit administration and the issue of the rights of baggage versus buttocks was deeply probed last month by OC Transpo and the Société de transport de l’Outaouais. They unanimously determined that Mr. Vestige’s employment needs notwithstanding, his bags and travel cases were not paying customers, and therefore ineligible for dedicated seating.
It might have ended there, had Vestige not successfully lobbied for the right to obtain transit identification and bus passes for four pieces of baggage.
“When it became obvious that it was really all about the money, I threw money at them,” Vestige said, with a smile that begged to be slapped off. “They couldn’t really back down after that and argue that it was really about equality or accessibility. If they had, they’d be sorry. I’ve written extensively on the rights of baggage necessary for employment. It’s not all that different from a guide dog—I depend on my ‘stuff’ for survival.”
Vestige said that, effective last week, his new approach to challenges from other riders would be to point to the IDs and passes neatly pinned to each bag.
Mooseclean’s tried to reach him for an update but he was undergoing surgery to remove a Louis Vuitton purse that had somehow become tangled in his braces.