I went out last night. My friend and I decided it was time to cash in on our husbands’ recent sporting outings together and do something for ourselves! We were going to have dinner and some drinks and then see where the night took us. Of course none of our other mum friends could make it out because mumming is bloody hard (and fair enough) so it was just the two of us – old mates since high school – catching up. It felt like the old days except I didn’t have to knock on her mum’s front door to pick her up haha.
Also, we had decided to catch an Uber. I haven’t done that very often in my life. I rarely drink enough to warrant it and where I live (further out of town than most of my friends) it means that I would be in the car alone at some point unless it was a rare evening where my husband and I got babysitting and were actually together.
I feel sad about it but it was a really big decision for me to share an Uber ride with my friend (who lives halfway between my place and last night’s destination). It was purely because of my gender and the likely gender of my Uber driver (ie usually a male). I know I am a big worry wart and I read too many news stories but at one point I felt like I would be putting my whole life on the line if I decided to ride alone. I thought about how I would be able to make sure everyone knew where I was (I love the app feature that allows your designated contacts to track your ride live). I thought about strategies – where to sit, how to escape if shit went down etc etc. And to be honest, I realised that there would be so many potential counter measures to my counter measures possible that if one horrible, rotten, bad egg of a person really wanted to hurt me, they could and I’d have no way of stopping it.
It’s not that I think every male is out to get me. It is not that I think every male Uber driver has evil lurking inside of them. It’s just that women are conditioned from a very young age to believe something might happen because statistically, I think men are our biggest threat (please feel free to fact check this for me). Putting ourselves in a position where we are alone with a male we don’t know buys into our notion of ‘stranger danger’ (despite most women being harmed by someone they know).
So basically, it felt like a big life or death choice and I was annoyed by that. My husband admitted that he knows nothing of this kind of feeling (personally) and that it sucks and he wishes it wasn’t like that for women. I mean, it’s just a ‘safe’ ride from point A to point B. FFS.
As much as I felt like I was overthinking it (probably), it did feel like a valid concern. I felt pretty comfortable riding stone cold sober in the daylight to my friend’s house on the way into town, but I was nervous about being alone with a driver on the way home after potentially having a few drinks.
The last time I had taken a taxi alone, the driver had stroked my arm and asked if I was cold, pretending he was being fatherly, but it made my skin crawl and I swore I would never ride alone again. I was 18 and some might think I need to get over myself, but it stuck with me. I had been vulnerable and had a kind of mild panic attack, which was why I felt a sudden urge to leave a place and get to my boyfriend’s house in the first place (which was very close by). Not feeling safe in the taxi was the last straw!
Anyway, my friend and I had a lovely dinner and a few drinks. It wasn’t very lively in the bars around town after the initial dinner rush which was a bit disappointing (and we’re told unusual but quite honestly we wouldn’t know – we have dinner with our kids at 5:30pm and go to sleep not long after them haha)! We enjoyed each others’ company anyhow, so when we called it a night a 10:30pm we saw the positives: we were leaving town before bad stuff could happen (I may have referred to it as ‘stabby time’ in my Instagram stories) and we had a good chance of having a full night’s worth of sleep (by our mum standards).
I tried to remind myself that I would only be alone in the Uber home for a very short while, that my ride would be shared with my friend and my husband and that I had a moment to suss out the driver before my friend was dropped off. You can imagine that I was so stoked when a woman’s name popped up as our driver! I was so relieved that my first solo ride service experience home would be with a female driver. I felt happy to be eased into the experience!! She was lovely and chatted about being a strong confident mama bear who was rarely nervous herself when picking up passengers. Before I knew it I was home safe and receiving a message from my friend, “It says you’re home. Did you make it OK?” (I paraphrased). Thank goodness for good women and for good men (shout out to my first -male – driver who took me into town and was lovely and non threatening and gave off a good vibe).
I hope one day I will only have to be as vigilant as a man has to be in similar circumstances, but for now I am happy to have had a little faith restored.