Me as a ride share passenger? (Uber, Lyft, etc)…. I used to be a carefree happy-go-lucky gal who didn’t mind small talk with the [mostly male] drivers. I’d even accept unwarranted compliments from them.
Recently, my attitude changed. This is a result of having a few strange interactions lately.
After making small talk, Uber driver asks me: “is your man treating you right?” (unprofessional)
…and proceeds to tell me: “you’re the coolest girl to step into my Uber” followed by, “I should get your number.”
This is after 20 minutes of conversation! Like dude, you don’t KNOW me. And you know I have a boyfriend. So what the hell?
Uber driver says “if I was your man, I’d take you out and treat you right” (Ummm, okay? What are your intentions on telling me this… strange man who I don’t know at all??)
Within the first 5 minutes, Uber driver asks “Radhika – are you a party girl?” (We’re not even acquaintances… stop.)
These comments made me really, really uncomfortable. You have to understand that tone and other aspects of conversation come into play here. These comments felt very intrusive on my privacy.
I didn’t I solicit them (i.e. wore a sign on my chest that stated I needed attention and validation). A few minutes of modest, friendly conversation (#nicegirlsclub) should not warrant aggressive comments like these. I know not all male drivers are like this… but there are a lot of them out there trying to push into invited spaces, verbally, with their female passengers.
Still- I gave these dudes the benefit of the doubt:
Maybe they accidentally made those comments and regretted them later.
Maybe they didn’t realize how creepy those comments sounded.
Maybe they were a bit socially awkward.
Maybe what they were saying was lost in translation on my end.
But why? Why was I letting them off the hook so easily? I should be able to walk around this world without having to worrying about being verbally harassed. Right? I should be able to ride in peace, knowing my privacy won’t be invaded. Knowing I don’t have to deflect creepy comments.
And omg. Don’t even get me talking about that one study that concluded many women are paying MORE than men for ride shares due to male drivers being “overly chatty” and missing turns, or taking advantage of our niceness by taking longer routes and assuming we won’t speak up. That’s a whole nother’ ball game.
My point here is this:
I don’t want to have to worry about taking an Uber at midnight alone.
I don’t want to constantly have my nose in my phone to avoid eye contact or unwanted small talk with certain drivers.
I don’t like how my stomach lurches when an Uber driver makes a wrong turn. I shouldn’t get that nervous feeling… but I do.
Some of these things can’t be avoided. Obviously, us girls have to be street smart. (Like check the child lock in Ubers and don’t volunteer too much personal information to drivers.) However, it would ALSO be nice to be treated with respect. JUST IN GENERAL. People should learn that there is a bold, thick line between friendly and creepy. Just because we are being friendly, does NOT give you the green light to hit on us.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to actively wear our RBF (<— Resting Bitch Face, to you newbs!) to ward off potential creepy advances? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could sit on BART (or any random public transportation) without feeling like a jerk when we don’t talk to the guy who calls us beautiful?
I have had plenty of perfectly cordial conversations in small talk settings with male ride share drivers. The truth is: There’s a bold, glaring line separating small talk from harassment. Just because I’m talking to you, doesn’t give you the excuse to harass me. Or think that you can do into “flirting” territory. You can’t, and you shouldn’t. It makes me uncomfortable.
I get it. Guys will try to pick up girls blah blah blah. I can’t expect to be treated professionally in a SOCIAL environment… but when I’m PAYING for an Uber, I’m going to need you to be fucking professional.
How do we encourage and educate people to respect women in these PROFESSIONAL environments? Yes, paying for a ride share means that car is a PROFESSIONAL environment. More specifically, how do we clarify that seemingly blurry line that lies between creepy and cordial?
This is how I tried to do it:
(Warning- I do not advise this…)
After the “you’re the coolest girl I’ve met” comment said in a very flirtatious tone, I got so frustrated that I nervously retorted, “I’m just trying to be friendly so I don’t end up in a ditch somewhere.” The driver stopped trying to ask for my number & took the conversation down a notch to lovely, appropriate small talk.
Again- do not advise this. I was close to my destination… and I just couldn’t suppress the sass that his comment warranted.
But really- I don’t have an answer to my question on how to solve this. Let me know your thoughts!