I can be a pretty anxious, paranoid person. Most people don’t realize how much anxiety I go through, about a lot of things.
I also try to be very conscious of my safety and security. In a country where sexual harassment is still seen as an acceptable way of paying attention to a woman, where a woman who wears low necklines or short skirts is asking for it, where the president-elect makes rape jokes, I do what I can to make sure I and other women stay safe.
Yesterday, I took an Uber from the office to go to Quezon City. The driver seemed fine. We took EDSA, since I told him to just follow Waze.
At some point, maybe near the EDSA monument (I don’t remember exactly), the driver’s phone rang. He picked it up.
Most drivers will ignore it, or reject the call. Some will ask me if it’s okay that they take the call. I’m fine with that.
My driver didn’t ask, but I didn’t mind. What I did mind was that he told whoever it was that he was going to Quezon City, to Cubao specifically. After that, he put the phone down, and didn’t say anything to me.
For a few months now, it’s been my habit to sit behind the driver’s seat, so he can’t easily reach me if he has any malicious intent. On this ride, I was doing just that. I didn’t bring a pocket knife with me, but I found a pen, removed the cap and held it tight in my hand, ready to stab him in the neck if I saw anything untoward.
As was my practice when riding alone, early in the ride I had sent Oneal and Dante the alert that I was on a ride, with a link to a map updated real-time, showing my location. I also told Oneal what happened.
I watched the driver carefully, watching the curb every time we ventured into the outermost lane, checking to see if any “pedestrian” hovered too close to the car, ready to board, to hold me up, or worse.
The driver didn’t do anything, or say much.
Oneal wanted me to get down immediately, but we had made it past Crame, and we were already on the flyover above Bonny Serrano. So instead, I changed my destination to a mall in Araneta Center. At least I knew Araneta Center like the back of my hand, and could jump out of the car at any time. It was a public, densely populated area too, so I figured if the driver had any malicious intent, he would be less likely to try anything there. I told him I changed the destination, and all he asked was at which driveway or entrance I wanted to go.
I reached my destination safely, and thanked the driver as I got down. He didn’t say much, but he thanked me and waved as he ended the trip. I went into the mall and reported it to Uber.
They quickly replied, as is their practice. In the evening, I got a call from the Malaysia office, and I explained what happened. They apologized profusely, and promised to educate their drivers better. To my surprise, they also refunded my trip.
To be honest, it was probably nothing, but I felt it was better to err on the side of caution. There are far too many ways it could have been worse.