This recurring series highlights Coca-Cola Canada associates who agreed to share what makes them happy outside of work. This series was brought to life through our Coca-Cola Europe team which was sharing these stories internally. The stories can be inspiring, fun or thought-provoking and all are worth being shared with the world.
Meet Stephen Lawrence. From 2:00pm to 10:00pm, he makes deliveries all across the GTA in a bright red Coca-Cola truck. Once he clocks out however, Stephen swaps his ride for an equally iconic one and takes to the streets of Brampton to begin his patrol, lending a hand where it’s needed. All self-respecting superheroes need a good origin story and Stephen’s alter ego is no different. I met up with Stephen recently to discuss how the masked hero, known locally as “Brampton Batman”, got his start.
How did you earn your moniker?
Guys in the warehouse have been calling me “Knight” as in “Dark Knight” for years but the comparisons started long before that back in high school. I remember being 14, I used to wear this big black overcoat on top of my school uniform. Apparently that coat and a square jaw was enough to earn me the nickname “Batman”. I wasn’t a big comic book fan growing up but it still seemed like a pretty cool nickname to have as a kid!
I bet! So how did a nickname turn into being a superhero?
A year or two later I was at the mall, grabbing a bite to eat, when I saw someone running out of a store. The shop owner was right behind him and started yelling for help. I was a boy scout and they do a pretty good job of teaching you the importance of lending a helping hand when you can. Next thing I knew, I’d apprehended the guy and the police had arrived. It turned out that the gentleman I’d just tackled had a Canada-wide warrant for using bogus credit cards.
Wow, so you actually stepped in and helped catch a criminal as a teenager?
Yeah, it was just one of those things where I happened to be in the right place at the right time. To be clear I’m not suggesting people run out and start tackling criminals at the mall. In my case however I already had some martial arts training and I felt comfortable stepping in and assisting. If you don’t have the training or are uncertain, my advice is always to stay back and contact the authorities.
I get a lot of questions about my patrols, people get worried that I’m some crazy vigilante out there fighting crime. The fact is that Canada has clear laws on that matter and I’m always sure to be well within those limits. The highlight of my patrol is usually nothing more exciting than giving directions, stopping for a photo or helping change the occasional flat tire.
Speaking of patrols, why do you do it?
That’s a great question, it’s always felt like a natural thing to do. It really is an extension of who I am. I’m not a performer, I don’t do it for money or anything like that. I enjoy being out in the community and lending a helping hand to my neighbours. While I’m not an entertainer, I do love seeing the smiles from kids and adults alike. Even though the guy in the suit may not so much as crack a grin when he is out on patrol, inside he’s beaming.
This may seem like a bit of a stretch but do you find there is anything you take from being a superhero and apply to your professional life driving for Coca-Cola?
I don’t think it’s a stretch at all. I’ve learned to always be mindful of the uniform you wear, whatever it may look like, and to remember what it means to people. When I’m out on patrol, people expect me to conduct myself a certain way and I always try to live up to that example. I wait at crosswalks, I don’t swear and I’m polite when people approach me to talk.
The same rules apply when I’m dressed to represent Coca-Cola on my routes. Courteous, attentive and efficient service is what customers expect from Coca-Cola. I’m generally the last point of contact that customers have with the company and that is a role I take very seriously.
For more images of Stephen Lawrence out on patrol, please visit his Facebook page here.