Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City bus driver pushes goodwill

Doubledee wants kindness to multiply

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Kris Doubledee wants to inspire a national movement to perform acts of kindness -- and get back to driving his bus.

Barely back in Winnipeg Sunday morning after a frenetic whirlwind tour to New York City, the Winnipeg Transit driver who gave his shoes to a homeless man said he welcomes all the attention -- if it leads to others doing good deeds.

"I'd like to see an A-OK movement start in Winnipeg and spread across Canada -- A-OK for act of kindness. See how far we can take it," said Doubledee.

"I'm doing it for a good cause. I'm just the messenger."

Doubledee was out of Winnipeg barely 24 hours, appearing Saturday morning live on CBS This Morning to talk about his decision last Tuesday to stop his bus and give his shoes to a barefoot homeless man.

Well, sort of to explain his story.

CBS gave him three minutes on the air, which was "not really" time to explain why he did what he did, Doubledee said.

He did tell the national U.S. audience that he hoped the same attention would be paid to helping the homeless man.

"I wanted to tell them that people in Winnipeg were wonderful and they give off a vibe. I call it an A-OK act of kindness," he said. "I just wanted to help everybody. We have some pretty cold nights in Winnipeg. I want him and every other homeless person in Winnipeg to be all right."

And he wanted to tell the CBS audience that people help people all the time in Winnipeg -- but he got only three minutes.

At one point, he walked for an hour, his only free time in New York City.

"We were on Fifth Avenue. I grabbed a few pictures of the Trump Tower, I took a walk around Central Park. It would have been nice to see Times Square," Doubledee said.

Fortunately, he was scheduled for a four-day weekend on his day job. He'll be back driving a transit bus Tuesday morning but doesn't yet know which route he'll draw. He doesn't have the same route every day.

Mayor Sam Katz appeared with Doubledee Saturday, having been in New York on city business.

"It was a pretty special experience to tell everyone what a special young person he is. Being in the studio, live, was pretty daunting," said Katz, who couldn't remember ever being on an American network before.

"Kris will always be a very special person in the minds of anyone aware of his act of compassion," Katz said. "Winnipeg has always had a reputation for giving.

"We can always do more. Homelessness is an issue across North America. He's raised it to a whole new level. He's led the charge to make us all aware."

Of course, there was the matter of the CBS gaffe, which identified Katz as mayor of Winnipeg, Ontario.

Speaking of compassion, Katz was in a forgiving mood.

"I didn't know during" the program, he said. "Listen, it's rather obvious to me -- someone putting up the graphics made an honest mistake."

Doubledee laughed it off.

"We're used to it, being Winnipeggers. They're always spelling our name wrong," he said.

"At least it wasn't a province further away, it was the province next to us," he said.

On one other question that some people have raised, the mayor said Doubledee won't get any grief over driving his bus in his stocking feet.

"I can assure you he won't be getting in any trouble," the mayor said.

As for Doubledee, "I'd give the shoes off my feet to anybody."

But in future, Doubledee said, he'll pack an extra pair when he's driving his bus.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2012 B1

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