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The Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Assistant Foreman Joe Zoffranieri, left, and Trackman Darion Gilbert with PNR RailWorks’ GO Transit Maintenance team helped abate the anxiety of a visitor in unfamiliar territory who was trying to find her friend.

You never know when a seemingly small gesture will make someone’s day.

That's what happened when a pair of PNR RailWorks employees with the GO Transit Maintenance office in Mississauga, ON, helped a woman in need.

Assistant Foreman Joe Zoffranieri and Trackman Darion Gilbert were at GO Transit’s Burlington Station performing routine track maintenance. They were near their company truck, involved in a safety briefing in the station parking lot, when Lana Koster approached them for directions to a train platform. She was meeting a friend traveling from Manitoba.

The station is under renovation, with construction and some traffic lanes blocked — a situation that left Lana, who isn’t from the area, feeling anxious and uncertain about where to go.

“With all the construction, I found it very confusing,” Lana says. “When I asked for information, Darion and Joe were explaining how to get to (the right place to) meet my friend. I think they saw my uneasiness.”

The two men did observe her uncertainty. “She kind of had her eyes wide open, like, “I have no idea what these guys were talking about,” says Darion, who learned from Lana that “she’s never taken the train or any kind of transit. She was actually from the Stoney Creek area, about a half-hour away on the other side of the lake.”

Joe, too, saw that Lana was uncomfortable, and he determined what to do. “I said, ‘My buddy and I will walk with you to the proper platform, wait until your friend arrives and walk you back to your car.’ We had about 15 minutes, and we knew the train schedule, so we knew the train was arriving in 5 or 6 minutes.”

The PNR RailWorks employees escorted Lana and waited until her friend arrived, then walked with the two women back to Lana’s car.

“I was thrilled to see such young, caring gentlemen who went out of their way to assist an elderly person,” says Lana, who insisted on getting a supervisor’s email address so she could send a thank-you note to PNR RailWorks Track Manager Mike Robinson. “This action renewed my faith in humanity.  They were polite and engaging.  What a joy to receive such wonderful treatment.

“Thank you for taking the time to hire such well-mannered, caring gentlemen,” she wrote to Mike. “It made a huge difference.”

Both men were quick to note that they didn’t want or expect any recognition. “We did it,” says Joe, “because you hope someone would help your mother.”

They also said they felt good from having been helpful. “She really appreciated it, which made us feel great,” notes Darion. “Small things make a big difference.”