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Getting home safe: How trusted taxi drivers may not be so trustworthy after all

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.

9 Comments

  1. haley says

    Around this time last year my 2 roommates and I went out together and all got really drunk. For some reason I decided to leave early and hopped in a cab. For my whole life whenever I have taken cabs I have always sat in the front seat as I’ve just always been uncomfortable sitting in back and having someone chauffeur me around and I find it kind of degrading towards my cab driver to sit in back. I always try to converse with my cab drivers as well as I have heard several interesting stories and once again feel rude just sitting in the back and being on my phone the whole time. Drunk me babbling away though the cab driver probably saw how drunk I was and kept driving me around saying “let’s pull over, let’s pull over” and kept trying to get me to kiss him and wouldn’t let me leave until I kissed him on the cheek. Ever since that experience I always sit in the back and am way more on edge when it comes to cab drivers and it’s really unfortunate that one bad experience has now created such a fear.

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  2. Milly says

    I was sent to the nearest Surrey E.R. by taxi one night and one the way back after hours waiting for a doc to give me antibiotics.. I got into a cab with my bf. We gave him the exact address (and repeated) it. Still he deliberately went through a longer route and I called him out on in when I finally noticed he was making odd turns.

    We argued about paying the bill which was now at $17 (and increasing as we were a block from the destination) when the taxi ride on the way to the hosipital was only $10.

    My bf and I were fed up. Paid the taxi driver and walked about a block and half to get home.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alison Ballance says

    Taxi businesses are just that, part of a business. Business’s can easily be held accountable for their employees. Did ANY of these women phone the taxi company, or email or write them? Taking it a step farther, if any of these women did make a formal complaint and nothing was done about it, go to the BBB.

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    • Bianca says

      Women, and people, should not have to endure this behavior regardless. I think you’ve missed the point of the article here, but I agree we should be more persistent about reporting so that we can actually make a difference.

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  4. Claudia says

    I work in the restaurant industry and take taxis 5 times a week about twice a day due to the fact that I do not own a car nor have a license. I often get cab drivers who don’t speak to me at all, or get cab drivers who have intellectual conversions with me, although there has been times when I’ve gotta the odd few who look at me as a piece of meat.

    One time, I had a cab driver ask me questions such as; do you have a boyfriend? Does he live with you? Who else lives with you? How old are you? You are so sexy. Here is my card, I will charge you less if you give me something in return. Throughout the entire car ride this man was staring at me through his mirror, I felt extremely uncomfortable. I took his card and gave me to my boyfriend. My boyfriend waited a few weeks after the incident and then called him and asked him to come get me. Fortunately for the cab driver, he decided not to show up. Truth be told, I wish he would have. Would of been extremely amusing watching him get his legs broken.

    Another time, a cab driver picked me up from home to go to work and would not stop staring at me… I felt as though he was undressing me with his eyes. He kept speaking in his language and giggling while looking straight at me, although I couldn’t understand what he was saying my instincts told me it was nothing appropriate. As dumb as this may sound, I texted me mom and asked her to call me, I told her in my language about his behaviour, she stayed on the phone with me until I walked into work, it’s funny though because as soon as I started talking on the phone, he immediately stopped giggling and and talking, but kept staring at my every move.

    Reading this blog has open my eyes to a lot of dos and donts of taking a cab, so I thank you for sharing your experiences and sharing how you now try to prevent these situations. These guys are complete dogs and their should be something we can do to stop it.

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  5. Dominique says

    I think that all taxi companies have their less favourable employees. I am worried about the racial generalizations that I’m picking up on in this thread. I too have worked in the industry, endured late cab rides and experienced my share of uncomfortable rides. I am also of a background which looks ambiguous. I have never had an experience like this. That’s not to say it’s not out there but be cautious of what you read and believe on the internet.

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    • I completely appreciate your comment and agree with you. As a person of minorty I would never want to portray racist under tones to any of my pieces. I can appreciate what you are saying with your comment. Unfortunately these situations that have arisen in my life as well as many of the women interviewed shows a bit of a culture difference with how women are looked upon. I also must say that not every single one of my first hand experiences were from men of a particular race, rather men taking advantage of a situation.

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  6. These are horrible experiences but I feel I need to share one experience I had back in 1971 – I was out late partying in Gastown and had no way to get home in Deep Cove so I decided to walk. As I approached 2nd Narrows Bridge a cab driver (I think he was from India) stopped and said “Poor little thing” and offered me a ride. He was a perfect gentleman the whole way and drove me to the door for free. Very special experience for me!

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  7. Justyn says

    My experience didn’t happen while I was living in Vancouver. Actually, it took place in a commuter city in Ontario. My roommate and I were on our way home from a Halloween party, and being 20 years old at the time you can imagine what our doctor and spice girl costumes looked like (I’m still embarrassed thinking about it). I don’t remember the entire drive but I do remember the driver telling us that the last girls he picked up were talking about their dildos. “Do you guys have dildos? Do you suck on them? Those girls said they do”. At the end of the drive he said he’d hoped he didn’t make things awkward and gave us his business card. That card stayed on our fridge for two years as a reminder of which company NOT to call.

    On the other hand, on a drive home in the same city I passed out almost as soon as I reached the backseat. I woke myself up by puking all over my arm. The driver had pulled over, given me Kleenex, and asked that I tell him next time I’m going to be sick. He didn’t really seem angry when he dropped me off, and he never mentioned charging me for the mess I had made.

    I guess it’s a toss up (pun intended) whenever you get into a cab.

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