Last night, I was made to feel unsafe in a taxi, and not for the first time either.
The man who collected me from a private hire company turned on the light to look at me when I entered the car, dwelling unnecessarily before turning on the engine and pretending that he didn’t know my home address when he clearly had it (he uttered the road name) before proceeding to act confused as to where it was. Testing him, I asked how long it would take and knowing it was just 5 minutes away, he ‘joked’ it would take 200 minutes. Not funny. Panicked, I phoned my husband to say I was on my way home and when I hung up, the taxi driver enquired whether he was worried I’d been kidnapped, laughing. Again, not funny. Unnerving and pretty frightening in fact. I firmly told him I felt unsafe and just wanted to get home safely to my kids, to which he apologised.
I complained to the firm and they have assured me they regard this as a serious matter and the driver in question will be disciplined internally but I’m frankly tired of being made to feel unsafe as a woman travelling at night, particularly in taxis.
This isn’t the first time I’ve suffered in the back of a cab. A taxi driver tried to force me into the front of his car in Holborn many years ago when I was a uni student, after a night out, and had it not been for a street cleaner seeing me frantically bang on the passenger window as I’d been locked in, I could have been raped or worse.
I was so grateful to have escaped and managed to return to a friend’s house nearby, I didn’t call the police. I wish I had now, of course.
I remember staying in bed for a week after that experience, traumatised and broken. I’m still nervous to get cabs at night, to this day.
To be honest, over the years there have been several incidences like this, in cabs, a place where as women we’re at our most vulnerable, on our own with usually a man driving us.
I’ve had taxi drivers make inappropriate sexual comments towards me or who have asked me on dates and even phoned me after I’ve left the cab as they had my number as part of the booking, or others who behaved oddly and made me feel unnerved. Another driver from a well known company uttered that he wasn’t sure he’d be able get me to my destination safely while driving manically. WTF?
On reflection there are so many #Metoo stories I could share, I could fill a book, and many of my friends and colleagues feel the same.
Time is up though. Let’s shout it loudly enough so the taxi drivers* take note too.
*There are many decent taxi drivers out there, of course.