One of my closest girlfriends and I always talk about our horribly weird encounters with taxi drivers we’ve had over the previous weekend, (We both work in the industry, late nights and also enjoy our nights out on the town. We also both take taxis at LEAST once a day because we do not own cars). After hearing the same stories over and over again, but in different circumstances, I wondered how many other women were subject to the abuse and unwanted advances by these men who are employed to get women and people in general home safely, my friend inspired me to reach out and do my research, gather information and share the stories with you all. Let me begin with my first hand experience. My first unsavory encounter with a taxi driver in Vancouver BC Canada was at the age of 11, I was standing at a bus stop in the summer time, after a matinee on Granville street (when Granville 7 cinemas was still open). The bus stop was full of people waiting for the next bus, it was a red light, a cabdriver was waiting for the light to change (with customers in his back seat) he made the pussy eating symbol to me the entire time, which felt like eternity (I use the word pussy because of the vulgarity in the manner of his performance). People at the stop saw him, some laughed, some just stared at me to see my reaction. I cried, it was a trigger for me. I had never felt so unsafe, and so not cared about. I looked like a little girl, frizzy curly hair, mustache, unibrow you name it. The fact that it wasn’t anything to do with me being overtly sexual but just a man taking advantage of the situation still disturbs me to this day. Years go by, I start working in the nightlife industry, taking a cab to and from work at least 4 nights a week. I notice something about my rides home at 4 am. 1 out of maybe 6 taxi drivers will take you an extremely long way home if they think you are drunk. So I got in the habit about 10 years ago of telling the cab driver as soon as I get in the cab “I am tired, worked all night” so they are aware I am not drunk. It works. Fast forward to Boxing Day 2013, my dog has to have a $5000 surgery, or I have to put him down. Those were my options, I used all my savings I was putting aside to put a down payment on a new apartment to save my dogs life (best decision ever, but was still an extremely hard one), that night while he was in surgery, I couldn’t stand sitting at home. I went out, got extremely drunk. Now being in the business of getting people drunk for a living, I have mastered the skill of not seeming as drunk as I am in certain situations (maybe it isn’t something to be proud of, but it is true). A cab drive from Fortune Nightclub to west 4th ave usually runs me $15 MAX, at around $29 I asked the cab driver to stop driving me through alleys and stalling, I knew what he was doing. (we were around the corner from the animal hospital, I was planning on staying there until I could take my dog home). Suddenly the taxi driver flipped out, because I called him out. He called me “ A dirty fucking whore” and locked the doors on me, I was screaming and seriously would have attacked him if it weren’t for the two guys leaving the back side of the animal hospital seeing the commotion they came over, Cab driver let me out. Opened his window and started screaming at me even more, calling me a whore, slut, shame to my family, to my father. That’s when the guys who were there told him they were calling the cops if he didn’t leave right away. He sped off. Now a huge issue I have sometimes, especially working in the nightlife industry where when I was 19 I would dress a lot more provocatively than I would now, was the fact that many taxi drivers think I am of Indian decent (it is hard to tell what race I am at times) and without fail I would always get comments like, “You are Indian, your father let you leave your home like that”, “Disgrace”, “Pretty Indian girl, we are going to have some fun tonight?” Maybe it’s a culture difference but as soon as I get asked these things I get all defensive and say “No actually, I’m ….” They shut up. I’ve had my credit card information stolen from a Taxi driver before, I know this because the only time I used the card was for that cab, and I remember him fumbling with my card. I called and complained to blacktops, they laughed. Now when I pay with debit or credit, I notice they always want to put your card in for you. Nope not happening, I make them pass me the machine so I can insert it myself so there isn’t a chance of them swiping or tapping my card on a reader. Most recently while leaving my ex’s house, I took the wrong cab home. 5 mins after walking through the door, I get a phone call. “You fucking bitch, you made me wait for you and I know you took a different cab” He hangs up, calls back “ I have your number now, and your name, I’m going to find you, fucking cunt” Again He hangs up, calls back. Now those of you who know me, know I don’t take shit from anyone. This time before he can say another word to me, I tell him, ‘listen if you have my number, then Blacktop knows you were dispatched to me, I will call the cops if you call back again, get your taxi license taken away and file a restraining order against you.’ He didn’t call back. This is why I always book taxis with a fake name now. Amongst these situations I’ve experienced, I’ve had countless others where the driver has asked me if – I was single, if so why – Lived alone – What my favorite sexual positions were – If he could take me out Amongst these situations I have had many pleasant situations where I have had very deep meaningful and intellectual conversations, met very nice drivers, and had quick safe rides home. I just want to bring awareness to what many women in this city face every night they choose to have some fun, a few drinks, and the events that take place, more commonly than not, and are not discussed. Below are first hand stories, I have not changed them at all, of situations where women in Vancouver have had horrible encounters with taxi drivers.
- -Couple years ago my friend forgot her phone in a cab. She realized and called the company to have the phone returned. When the cab driver showed up he came to her front door and when she answered he told her he would only give her phone back if she kissed him and then he proceeded to shove his tongue in her mouth. She called the cab company and they didn’t do anything about it and when she called the cops they basically blamed it on the fact that she’d had a couple drinks.
- A few years ago I was really drunk and I was telling the cab driver to pull over and he didn’t, I ended up puking all over the back seat, then pulled over and said “YOU OWE ME 300$ FOR CLEANING! PAY ME NOW!” Naturally, I was like fuck you just take me home! He pulled me out of the cab punched me in the face, drove off with my wallet purse and keys. Luckily I had my phone on me, when I reported it to the VPD they said I had no evidence, even though my eye was swollen shut for about 5 days, I’ve never felt more violated
- I was downtown at the met with some friends one night and I had a lot to drink. I was at the point where I could hardly stand. All my friends at that time lived in Van and wanted me to get home safely. The train had stopped running and they were afraid I’d get lost if I took the night bus. So one of my friends called a cab. (At this point in time I lived in Surrey). The cab arrived and my friends shoved me in the front. The drive started out okay. There was small talk… then things started to get weird. He said that he wouldn’t make me pay the cab price for going to Surrey from Van and that he’d just except $60 bucks then he told me to flip the visor down to cover the camera so that he could do so without getting caught. We kept driving and I remember at some point in time he offered me weed and beer. I was still really drunk so I honestly can’t remember everything. But I do remember ending up at some random industrial place (I think in Langley) he stopped the car and brought out weed and alcohol and then started touching me and trying to kiss me. I felt violated and I got scared… I thought he was going to rape me. I demanded him to take me home or I would call the cops. I honestly felt like it’d be safer if I took a bus. Ever since then I refuse to take a taxi alone.
- We were at Biminis and getting into a cab. I was the first one in and the guy literally pushed down on the gas and zipped away while the door was still open.. I flew back in the back seat and then my boyfriend Andre and his friend ran after it and kicked the back of the cab and the guy got out angrily and then Andre just started yelling at him. It was super intense. Though that’s not the first of awkward cab rides. I’ve had a cab driver drive me home after a night out one of the few times I’ve been by myself in one and I always try to act as sober as possible.. I usually am but even more so so that they don’t try to take advantage of the situation because I had one cab driver ask me very inappropriate questions about whether I have a boyfriend or if I live by myself. I prefer to not cab at night alone.
- I had a cab driver pick me up from my boyfriends late at night and ask me if I give him blowjobs and what sort of things we do sexually.
- I had one pick me up, recall another occasion when he picked me up… Said he remembers where I live… I should take his private number for faster service.. And told me I’m beautiful and he would like to go out together sometime.
- About a year or two ago, my girlfriend and I were downtown trying to get back to Richmond. When we finally hailed a cab and started to get in and tell him where we were going, he started driving away. He sped off, luckily I was just stepping in and didn’t get injured. He refused to take us that far. It was yellow cab. Unfortunately it all happened so fast I wasn’t able to identify the cab #.
- One driver parked his car outside my house and got out and asked me for a hug, haven’t used Mcreedy Cabs since
- A taxi driver ask me if I lived on my own when he dropped me off
- One cab driver asked me if I had a boyfriend or if I was married and if not, he would be happy to keep me warm.
- A taxi driver told me he recognizes me from picking me up from work and told me exactly where I lived.
- After a girls night out, I jumped into a cab in front of the Roxy. I was in and out of it, kept falling asleep, everytime I felt the cab stop I would open my eyes thinking we had arrived at my place in the Westend. The next time I opened my eyes, we were deep inside Stanley park, at some look out. I realized what was going on before he had a chance to do anything and I just screamed and screamed that I would call the cops if he didn’t bring me home right away. He quickly turned the car back on, drove me home. I was fully alert at this point. I only had my creditcard and his meter was off, so he told me he’d come inside with me, so I could get some cash to pay him. I told him if he wanted to get killed by my husband for attempted rape then feel free to come into my home, he sped off so fast he nearly ran over my foot. ( I didn’t have a husband, let alone boyfriend at the time)
These are a few of many every day experiences women face in our city when dealing with some taxi drivers, I invite you, to share your stories in comments below. Let us all be aware of how to keep safe, even when we think we are safe we may not be. Big thank you to KJM for your input and help on the article.