Violence Against Rideshare Drivers Needs to End
By Christine Tringali
Times have changed. We are living in a world where we are encouraged to get into a strangers car, & that stranger is trusted to give us a safe ride home. We automatically assume that this stranger can be trusted, because they have passed a background check, ensuring us that they are not a criminal of any sort, but what about these strangers who have passed thorough background checks, & their safety from the strangers who ride in their cars?
As you know, if you have ever used a rideshare platform to transport you from point A to point B, you need no background check. You don’t even need to use your real name, or a picture of yourself. We hear plenty of stories about rideshare drivers assaulting, raping, harassing, & even killing their riders, yet we rarely hear the stories from the drivers themselves. As a rideshare driver, I can assure you there are many of these untold, & unheard stories.
Let me introduce myself. I am a driver for both Lyft & Uber, who has been driving in Southern California for nearly two years, & has over 6,000 rides under my belt. I am always courteous, which is how I maintain a rating of 4.6 (there will always be riders who rate you low for no reason), & have achieved what’s know as Diamond Partner, which is the highest status an Uber driver can rank. My riders are typically very kind, but there have been a few instances where men have stepped well over the line.
While living & driving in San Diego, I had two separate instances of harassment by drunk men. Both encounters began with me picking these men up from bars, & the men repeatedly asking me to come up to their apartments. One even going so far as to ask multiple times, “So when are we gonna fuck?”. I laughed uncomfortably, & sternly told both that I was not interested. I told the one who apparently believed it was in my job description to “fuck” him that, “My job is to get you home safely. Here we are. I have another ride.”. I’m sure at least one of them gave me a one star. That’s what most do to the rideshare drivers who stand up for themselves. They don’t seem to like it very much when you block their advances. These were rides I did while working late night. I continued to work late nights till an incident that involved four young men from Canada that shook me up so much, I not only was in tears after dropping them off, I quite driving late nights for good.
This incident occurred when I moved to Los Angeles. I picked these four, obviously very drunk, young men up, & the moment they got into the car, one asked if I would give him five stars if they all performed oral sex on me. When I declined, they all began inquiring as to why, then began asking, “Who are you fucking out here?”. I told them again & again I am in a happily committed relationship. This didn’t seem to matter. They continued to ask if I was available for the night, & implying that they could please me more than the person I am with. Now, I have mostly guy friends, & have heard my share of “locker room talk”, but this went beyond “locker room talk”. I was actually in shock. I thought I would know how to handle myself. I thought I would kick them out of my car without batting an eye. I had frozen up. The ride lasted only twenty three minutes, but it felt like an eternity. After I dropped them off, I went to pick up a young woman, & broke down in front of her. She encouraged me to report them to Uber. We even became friends through that emotional bonding-filled ride.
Of course, there are many more stories than just mine, some involve actual physical assault. I have heard several stories from women drivers who have been grabbed & groped. This is not acceptable, & much more it is a crime. DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS ON A WOMAN (OR MAN) UNLESS THEY GIVE YOU PERMISSION.
Sadly, I posted that I was looking for stories from fellow drivers who have experienced sexual assault & harassment, but only had one very brave soul come forward to tell of her worst experience. We are moving forward in today’s society, but the fact is, the majority of women are still afraid to speak up. This needs to change. We cannot sit there silently, for if we do, history will only continue to repeat itself. We need to speak up, so that others know that they aren’t alone, that they are safe from judgement when opening up. I share this story below with much admiration, as well as empathy, for my fellow driver.
I've been a Lyft driver for 3.5 years with over 12,400 rides given.
Worst sexual harassment:
Passenger asked me out. I said no. He asked again. I kinda laughed and said no. He said, “C'mon baby girl, I got $1000 in my pocket. I'll show you a good time!”. I reiterated my no. He changed the subject for a bit, but eventually asked if I was single. I told him I was divorced (in my experience, even saying I was married didn't deter men). He told me, “Must have been with some weak ass men!". I responded that my ex-husbands would disagree (seeing as I've been married twice). Then he explained that “a woman chooses her man based on whether he can protect her". I told him I didn't need a man, since I will "stab a motherfucker if I need to". At this point, he told me that he was "really freaky" and that "we should fuck". I responded "That's great! I've always wanted to tie a guy down to the bed and beat him until he bleeds into the mattress.". Mind you, I said that because 1) he wasn't taking “no” for an answer, and 2) my second divorce was really nasty and I kinda hated men. Finally, FINALLY, that was too much for him and he was quiet for the remaining 2-3 minutes.
To the men out there, we know you are not all like this. We know there are beautiful souls out there who abhor abuse, sexual assault, & harassment, but for those still struggling to learn that, “No means NO!”, please understand that we aren’t taking it anymore. The necessary steps are being taken, & with those steps, times are changing.