Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bus driver walks the (charity) walk

Giving away shoes to homeless man is second nature to Good Samaritan

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Winnipeg's most famous bus driver claims he didn't do anything remarkable when he pulled his bus over Tuesday morning, hopped off and gave a homeless man his shoes. He habitually helps people and believes the rest of us do the same.

"I just do it because you've got two arms and two legs and you use them every day. You've got one heart and you should use it every day, too," Kris Doubledee said Wednesday night.

Doubledee, 38, was driving the No. 24 bus down Portage Avenue near Fort Street early Tuesday morning when he spotted the barefoot man on the sidewalk. He'd seen him the day before, shoeless.

"I just couldn't imagine him going through that," Doubledee said. "It was cold, maybe seven degrees and he was barefoot. I had to help him. Anyone would have done it."

He pulled the bus over and got out to speak to the man. He estimates the stranger to be in his mid-40s, with shoulder-length hair worn in dreadlocks.

"I asked him, 'Do you have any shoes?' He said 'No.' I said, 'If I give you a pair of shoes, will you keep them?' He said he would."

So Doubledee pulled off his good leather shoes, the ones his wife bought him four years ago at the Bay. They were meant to keep his feet comfortable during long hours on the job. He got back on the bus and finished the last two hours of his shift in his stocking feet.

"I couldn't imagine him walking a mile without shoes," the driver said. "I couldn't imagine how cold he was."

Doubledee got a small taste of the discomfort, walking shoeless back to his car at the end of his shift.

He has a deep faith in God that guides his day-to-day actions, he says. He'll often offer up prayers for the people he sees.

"It's kind of a thing with me. I see somebody with a disability or a need, I try to take their pain away or pray they find relief."

He prayed the first time he saw the shoeless man. When he saw him the second day, he thought that was a sign to get involved.

"The first time I saw him I asked the Lord 'Can you take his pain away?' The next day, it's like God put him there. I pulled over the bus. I knew I had to help him."

Doubledee doesn't belong to a church or really have much to do with organized religion. He's got his beliefs, he's got his moral compass and he's the best man he can be.

He says he offers up a prayer every time someone takes the Lord's name in vain. He will politely ask passengers to tone down profanity on the bus. If you do it right, he says, they'll comply.

Doubledee says he didn't stop to think about whether driving without shoes was dangerous or a bad idea. He wouldn't speculate about the possible danger.

"I really don't have an answer to that," he said. "My main concern was for his well-being. I couldn't imagine walking barefoot. You could tell he was already in pain."

Doubledee is convinced every other Winnipeg Transit employee would have done the same thing, or has helped a Winnipegger in another way. He hasn't yet talked to his bosses about his altruistic act.

There's something wonderfully innocent about Doubledee and his conviction we all go out of our way to comfort the troubled and the afflicted. We don't, most of us, not for strangers on the street or even casual acquaintances. He's the same guy who once helped an old lady lug four full suitcases onto the bus at the airport, got her to her stop and had a responsible-looking stranger sit with her until the woman's son could to pick her up.

He did it because she needed help and he has a heart he likes to use.

The homeless man may have already sold the shoes or had them stolen. That doesn't matter to Doubledee. He saw a need and he handed over his good leather shoes to fill it. He'll do it again if he sees a need.

He believes you would, too.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2012 A4

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About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

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