<p>It was July 23rd. I waited at Melbourne Airport’s Rideshare pick-up zone for about 6 minutes before the black Honda HR-V arrived. The driver helped me with my luggage—as most drivers at the airport do. We got in the car and the questions began.</p>
Content warning: sexual harassment
I Uber everywhere. When I wake up late for school, I Uber. When I’m meeting friends for brunch at a suburb that I’m not familiar with, I Uber. When I’m done with a long night out with friends, I Uber.
Granted, they’re expensive, but for a social butterfly like myself, I find comfort in having conversations with the drivers. Some of them are more flirtatious than others, but I’ve always felt safe on most, if not all my trips.
It was July 23rd. I waited at Melbourne Airport’s Rideshare pick-up zone for about 6 minutes before the black Honda HR-V arrived. The driver helped me with my luggage—as most drivers at the airport do. We got in the car and the questions began.
“Where are you from?”
“What brings you to Melbourne?”
“Oh wow, which uni?”
“A girl like you, got a boyfriend?”
Ah. The boyfriend question. I told him I don’t have a boyfriend and he got all shocked. Soon the compliments came rolling in. I started feeling uncomfortable so I diverted the focus of the conversation to him by asking him what he did for a living apart from Uber.
“I’m a baker. You know, we’re actually looking for more people to work at the bakery, I think you’d be great,”
I declined the offer. We were a few minutes away from my place.
“I hang out here a lot, we should grab lunch,”
Declined. I told him to drive another 100 metres and unbuckled my seatbelt. It started drizzling.
“Oh no, it’s raining. Are you going to be okay?”
I said yes and reached for the door handle. He pressed on the gas pedal.
“I’m not going to let you walk in the rain. No, we’ll wait for the rain to stop,”
And he kept driving.
I panicked and asked him where he was taking me and why he wasn’t dropping me off.
“We’ll just go around the corner, we can sit and talk till the rain stops, I’m not letting you walk in the rain,”
“No. No. NO. TAKE ME HOME,” I said. “NO.”
“STOP THE CAR.”
I was sitting at the edge of the seat now. My left hand was still on the door handle—I had half a mind to jump out of the car while it was still moving.
He stepped on the break and I jumped out of the car. I ran to the back of the car, opened his boot and attempted to lift my heavy luggage. He came running and tried to help. I said it was okay but it fell on deaf ears. He pulled my luggage out of the boot and placed it onto the wet road.
“I can walk you to your door,”
I shook my head profusely. Told him that I don’t need his help whilst fumbling and struggling with pulling my luggage. Once I properly got a hold of my luggage, my first instinct was to get away from him as quickly as possible.
“About the job offer… maybe I can get your number?”
He must be kidding. I continued moving away and he came after me asking for my number again. Once again,
“Fine, I was just trying to help.”
He got into his car but didn’t drive off. He sat there observing me from his rearview mirror. I walked to a neighbouring house instead and turned to look at him. Still there. I pretended to find my keys. Still there. I took my keys out and put them into the gate’s keyhole. It was already unlocked. I opened the gate. He drove off.
Drenched. Scared. And cold. I quickly made my way home and locked all the doors. I ran up the stairs to my room and got under my covers. I didn’t leave my bed for the next 6 hours.
I no longer Uber everywhere. I do so only when I really need to. Like when I’m late for school. Brunch with friends are now primarily in the city. I no longer stay out late anymore unless I have a friend driving me home. And when I get in an Uber, I share my trip details with a loved one. And I sit at the backseat. And I only answer questions that I need to answer.
And you probably should too.