Mayor Mike: Thoughts on Facebook and getting over an aversion to flying

My cynical friend, who wishes to remain anonymous (Bob), says men don’t care what’s on TV; they only care what else is on TV (and now).


John Cleese said it best about Facebook. “People explain Facebook to me, but the whole idea of somebody writing their own gossip column, about themselves, so that their friends know where they are shopping – this I cannot understand.” I, however, have recognized the reality of the dominance of Facebook in people’s lives and have been on it for years in a low-key way (sort of like being in the Facebook Witness Protection Program).

Facebook-logo-png-2Facebook page is simple. Name: Michael Bradley. Relationship: City of Sarnia. Friends: Few (that is life in politics) Acquaintances: Many.

Have a social media addict friend who stepped down from what appears to be her full time career writing on Facebook to update my social media persona. First piece of advice was to be more of a sharing Facebook person like the rest of the world. The adviser said I have to live for a week, following the principles of Facebook like a religion in one’s daily life. A Facebook Boot Camp. So every day have wandered around downtown telling passersby what I’ve had for lunch, how I feel, what I did the night before and my plans for the day in the minutest detail. Whoever is stopped is shown pictures of co-workers, Charlie the Canatara cat, selfies of selfies and I ask them repeatedly “Do you like it? Do you like it?”

I tell everyone I meet we need to get together and I love them. And it has worked. By the end of the week had three people following me through downtown–three police officers and a psychiatrist.


A friend shared thoughts by anonymous (who is a very busy person writing around the clock) that could apply to anyone’s life:

Many people Mess Up
Something Good, By
Looking For
Something Better Just
To End Up With
Something Worse…….


Uncle Clary in Northern Ireland worked for a few years in the Belfast Public Works Department. He and his fellow worker, Conor, were a team. Clary would dig a hole with Conor following behind him to fill it in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved to the next street, working furiously all day without rest (well, except for the contractually union requirement of a mandatory Guinness break at noon) one digging the hole and the other filling it in again. A local Councillor saw them and was amazed at their hard work, but couldn’t understand what they were doing. So he said to Clary “I’m impressed by your work effort for Belfast, but I don’t get it. Why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner come behind you and fill it up again? Clary wiped his brow and responded “Well, I suppose it probably looks odd be we’re normally a three-man crew, but today Seamus, the lad that plants the trees, called in sick.”


airplaneAt the beginning of every year I like to challenge myself to take risks and do new things (Like most people I don’t really but it sounds a lot better to write that). In the past, walking on the wild side, risks have included removing the “do not rip” labels off pillowcases, keeping library books out a day past the due date and jaywalking in Point Edward (Ward 5). This year’s “risks challenge” was to accept out-of-province speaking engagements this spring, thus breaking my rule that any speech has to be within two gas tanks of “Air Mustang” range and not involve flying unless 120 km/h counts on Highway 402. Will be a keynote speaker (Note: A keynote speaker sets the tone for the conference and is also responsible for cleaning up the hall afterwards). If I was in a Band would call it a national tour with gigs in St. John’s, Newfoundland and the other in Edmonton, Alberta. Speaking topic is the Mayor’s Challenge that was issued from Sarnia to municipalities across Ontario in 2010 to hire people with disabilities as a matter of social justice, not charity. The idea was the inspiration of Bob Vansickle of Community Living Sarnia. Since it started the message has evolved for cities and businesses to “Do the right thing” to a new motto of “Do the smart thing” and hire the disabled and intellectually challenged (dislike using the words “intellectually challenged”. There is no one who is not.) The Challenge has been a success across Ontario and continues to grow.

Informed “Deputy Mayor” Janis about accepting the speaking engagements.   Knowing my aversion to flying she laughed followed by “you know Via Rail doesn’t go to Newfoundland?” Responded I was fully aware of that fact and from now on call me “Air Mike” (Didn’t mention that had checked out the ferry service from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland but is too early in the season. Apparently the Ferry Captains, just like the Toronto Maple Leafs, are scared of ice). Her laughter continued after making the mistake of telling her the organizations wanted to know what was my professional speaking fee?   She said “do they know there are people here that will pay for you not to speak at events?”

The lack of enthusiasm about flying relates to two experiences that left bad memories. One was as an impressionable kid when growing up and hearing the words of Leaving on a Jet Plane: “I am leaving on a Jet Plane and don’t expect to be back again”. I took that as a message from God. And the last time I flew, when stuck out on the runway for an hour, finally asked the attendant what was wrong and she said “the pilot was bothered by a large noise in the engine and it was taking a while to find another pilot.”

Read a book (Not that Fear of Flying) that said to confront ones’ fear of flying by self-examination of why?   The book revealed that I am really fine with flying except for arriving at the airport and seeing in big letters the sign TERMINAL. Fine with flying except for the take-off part. Fine with flying except for the time being in the air in a coffin-shaped tube going 600 miles an hour. Fine with flying except for the end part called the landing. The book revealed that, except for those concerns, I’m fine with flying. Of course since committing to the flight, the media has been running every hour stories about planes depressurizing, emergency landings, drunken pilots and plane crashes. Plus, a frequent flyer friend tried to be reassuring by saying it’s more dangerous to drive to the airport than flying so now scared about the drive to the airport too. Now ignoring the stories and trying to remain positive about flying, remembering that it was an optimist that developed the airplane and a pessimist the parachute.

Looking forward to visiting Newfoundland which reminds me so much of my parents’ beloved Ireland with its beautiful landscape and its people with their warm personalities, character and humour. Having made the commitment to speak I will be there as it is an honour to be asked to take the Mayor’s Challenge nationally.   Because of the distance and time it takes to get to Newfoundland have offered to attend other meetings to help the disability employment cause including meeting with a group of Newfoundland Mayors.   Their communities have some wonderful names like Joe Batt’s Arm, Conception Bay, Heart’s Desire, Cow Head, Leading Tickles, Come by Chance and, of course, Dildo.  Told “Deputy Mayor” Janis that I hoped I wouldn’t lose my composure and start laughing when the Mayors announced the names of their towns. She said “if that happens, just starting thinking about serious stuff. Like about the flight home from an isolated island called ‘The Rock’ surrounded by the ocean. Where it’s a rare day in the spring there isn’t a gale wind or driving rain and snow. Remember that even good pilots have bad days and that there are more planes in the ocean than there are submarines in the sky. That should help kill any laughter.” It did even before I left to buy the plane ticket.

To be continued…..


If you have any ideas or comments please call me at 519-332-0330 Ext. 3312 or 519-336-8092 or

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