A Stranger Tried to Trick Me Into Getting Into His Car By Pretending to be a Lyft Driver
I was heading home a little earlier than my friends tonight; they’d been drinking, but I’d had a few intense hospice days so decided to stay sober. Consequently, I was running out of energy before my friends.
Subway was closed, so I called a lyft.
A black car pulls up next to me, and the driver asks “Are you waiting for a lyft?” I look at my app; lyft says the car is supposed to be blue, but it could be the light? Also, the guy on my phone looks like a white dude, and the guy in the car appears to be an Indian tech bro.
“What’s the name?” I ask him.
“Star,” he says — or something like that. Regardless, it was neither my name, nor the name of my driver.
“That’s not right,” I say. “You must be looking for someone else.”
“The app is down,” he responds, “that’s why I don’t know your name.”
“If you don’t know my name, I’m not getting in your car,” I firmly respond. We stare into each other’s eyes for a minute before he breaks eye contact and drives off.
So… I’m struggling, but I can really only think of one reason why a strange man would try to convince a woman to get into his car. I suppose he could have tried to rob me, or charge me cash, but I had no cash on me (like many lyft passengers) so that seems unlikely.
If I had been sexually assaulted by someone posing as a driver, I wouldn’t have been the first.
And, I am so, so so glad I was sober tonight. Had I been drunk, I could easily have slipped into the first car that claimed to be my ride. I’m so worried right now, about that guy driving out there and any other women he may be trying to pick up. I didn’t get his license plate number, I don’t even remember for sure what brand of car he was driving (maybe a Honda?) I could go make a police report tomorrow, but how many Indian tech dudes are there driving about SF in black cars?
It’s not the first time a strange man has tried to get me in his car. When I was in high school, I remember walking home from the subway one hot summer day when a man pulled up beside me and offered me a ride home.
“No thank you,” I said.
“Come on, get in.”
“No, I like walking,” I said.
“It’s so hot out, you’re sweating. Just get in the car.”
“It’s good exercise,” I responded.
“Bullshit,” he said and slammed on the gas and drove away.
And, when I was a young woman, I left that exchange relieved… but, on some level, also guilty that I had offended him with my obvious lie. Even though I knew that guy was sketchy, even though I knew he wasn’t offering me a ride to be kind, I still felt like I owed him something. My politeness. My sparing of his feelings. Something.
It can be hard to see how you’ve matured, but when I told that driver “I’m not getting in your car if you don’t know my name,” I felt no guilt or hesitancy. I felt no need to be polite to him, of soften it. I stared that man right in the eyes and said, effectively, “I do not trust you.” Because I didn’t.
Many people don’t really understand the emotional state that often precedes a sexual assault, but it is one of denial and social conditioning. It is having the sense that something is off, and not trusting that sense because you’ve been taught to value the feelings of men above your own feelings. When that man propositioned me as a teenager, I had been taught that not embarrassing men was more important than my feeling comfortable. And when you’re constantly doing things that you don’t want to do, when you’re constantly doing things that feel uncomfortable to you, it’s very hard for you to act on your gut feeling something isn’t right because your actions never feel right.
There are a few other spaces in my life where I’ve been able to act more assertively with men lately. I had some really bad sex with this guy a few years ago which ended in him telling me “I’m often a generous lover, but not tonight.”
A week or so ago, he runs into me and a friend in the street on his bike and he’s all “Hey! Emma!”
I look at him, and say “Hi,” without stopping.
“Are you busy?” He asks.
“Yes,” I say and walk away.
“That was a pretty clear fuck you,” my friend said to me. Actually, I didn’t really feel I had been assertive enough. I still had compulsively said hi to him; I couldn’t bring myself to ignore him completely. But, I guess the message was delivered.
Men may arguably have the right to be a dick to me during sex (in this case, a consensual but non reciprocal sex act) but I also have the right to never speak to them again. And, I still feel that pull inside me to be nice to these guys who were jerks to me. I still felt the pull to stop and be all smiles with this guy on his bike. But, I wasn’t. And, it’s hard. I feel like a huge asshole every time.
The flip side of this is, men feel like they have the right to be dicks to me and then be entitled to my attention afterward. The fact that this guy has the audacity to expect to be on speaking terms with me pisses me off. This comes across as a type of dismissal.
Oh, are you still upset about that? It was years ago, I was going through a bad time, etc. etc. Can’t you just let it go?
No. I owe you nothing. I owe strangers nothing. I owe the men who are casually cruel to me nothing. You are not entitled to a damn thing.
Just earlier tonight, I was dancing with some people and was like “ohh, I feel like this guy may be into be and I don’t like dancing near him,” and then I went through this whole self monologue. You’re being ridiculous, he hasn’t done anything wrong, he’s probably not into you etc. etc.
But… no. I don’t have to dance near someone if I don’t want to. Someone doesn’t have to have done something wrong for me to not want to dance near them. But, like, also — to get real — he hadn’t done nothing. I was responding to something. This guy was basically moving into my space which is also what made me feel uncomfortable, and also why I had weird guilt about moving away from him. It would be clear to him that I wasn’t randomly moving — I was moving away from his presence. I very clearly signaled to him “I am not into you.” Because I wasn’t.
At the heart, I have always felt obligated to shield men from my dislike of them. Men find rejection painful, like we all do, and I’ve been conditioned to avoid causing men this kind of pain by softening my rejections or, not rejecting them at all. I do appreciate that men have to put themselves on the line more than women do in cis-het situations, but you know what? Sometimes I ask women out too, and I can assure you, being rejected by a woman is waaaaay better than having to tolerate perpetual discomfort at having your boundaries continuously crossed.
For me, maturing means that when I don’t like a man, I don’t try to hide this anymore. I won’t be rude, and I won’t be mean, but at some point when a man wants something from me I don’t want to give, this has to be communicated clearly. And, it served me well tonight.
No, I do not want to get in your car.